Over on Without Supervision, Supervisor Stevens Miller’s blog, there has been great discussion of the various plans, requirements and interests behind the Redistricting issue currently before the Board of Supervisors. One of the flashpoints that has come up is the issue of “Splitting Leesburg.” In many of these discussions, parties are talking past each other because there is confusion over what it means to split Leesburg. For example:
I heard repeatedly yesterday at the hearing that Leesburg shouldn’t be split and frankly it was driving my crazy–Leesburg is ALREADY split into two districts. –Matt L.
Matt is correct, as currently configured there are residents of the Town who do not vote in the Leesburg Magisterial (Supervisor) District, but rather vote in Catoctin. This is an artifact of the lines drawn in the year 2000 that were not able to account for later growth and annexation, which changed the Town’s borders without a concurrent change in the Supervisor District.
(In the interests of full disclosure, I’m a resident of the Town of Leesburg, and also the author of the blog Leesburg Tomorrow, so I have an interest in, and opinions on, the fate of the Leesburg District.)
As I said in a comment on Without Supervision, those of us advocating for a united Leesburg district do not discount the fact that the Town is too large to fit within one Supervisor’s District. Regardless of the outcome of the Redistricting debate, some current Town residents are not going to vote with other Town residents for the same Supervisor. That does not mean, however, that the County should abandon the oft-iterated goal of keeping as many Leesburg residents as possible together in the same District.
From the beginning of this process, the Town of Leesburg and its residents have asked to be kept together in the same District to the extent that is possible. The Leesburg Town Council respectfully made this request at the very first public input session on the Redistricting question. Since then, a wide variety of Town residents from all walks of life, and neighborhoods of Leesburg, have united to make this humble request again at each subsequent opportunity for input. In doing so, we have all understood the limitations that the Town’s population places on the extent to which our wishes can be fulfilled. We’re not asking for an exception, we’re asking for consideration.
Scott Parker, Assistant to the Leesburg Town Manager, came before the Board of Supervisors to address the ambiguity over the question of how to shave off the necessary population of Leesburg, and provided as concise a definition of what the Town requests as I’ve yet read:
“Should the population be too large, we request that priority be given to precincts already in this districts to allow for continuity,” Scott Parker said. – Leesburg Today
So please, in discussions of Redistricting, understand that when residents of the Town speak of “Splitting Leesburg” we mean drawing District lines that cut more of us off from one another than is absolutely necessary. We understand some shaving of Town voters into another District will be necessary, we simply ask that it be minimized.
(Crossposted, for good reason, to Leesburg Tomorrow.)
I find it hard to believe that Matt Letourneau doesn’t know the difference between splitting, in the literal sense you describe here, and Splitting, as in the redistricting strategy intended to manipulate voter demographics in one’s favor. That conflation just sounds disingenuous to me, coming from someone so politically involved.
They are very different things. Thank you for explicitly pointing this out.