Redistricting: Gloucester begins task of redrawing magisterial lines

by Kim Robins - Posted on Mar 30, 2011 - 03:41 PM

The Gloucester Board of Supervisors will begin the task of redrawing the county’s voting districts next week.

A redistricting plan, the recommendation of a 15-member citizen committee, will be presented to supervisors during Tuesday’s meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. in the colonial courthouse.

Lines are being redrawn to reflect the shift in population between the 2000 and 2010 censuses. The committee has worked over the past two months to redraw county magisterial districts to ensure equal representation.

The goal is to reapportion the population so that each district representative on the county and school boards represent approximately the same number of residents. One consideration during the redistricting process is that the residences of incumbent supervisors and school board members cannot be displaced from their current magisterial districts.

Since the last redistricting 10 years ago, the county has grown in population by just over 2,000 people. "We did not gain that much population wise, but there was considerable growth in the northern part of the county," said Gloucester Registrar Carole Gates, who is also a redistricting committee member.

Gates said that while the Petsworth district had considerable growth, the York district had a significant loss of population. She said one theory for the York loss was the considerable impact that Hurricane Isabel (2003) and Tropical Storm Ernesto (2006) had on the district, much of which is coastal and low-lying.

Along with its recommended plan, the committee will ask the board to set a date for a public hearing on its redistricting proposal. After the hearing and with board approval, the plan will be submitted to the U.S. Justice Department for its consideration.

For county candidates running independently for district seats, the redistricting could mean a renewed effort to collect signatures for their ballot petitions. "We’re telling them if you are running for a district seat, your district might change," Gates said. In