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Redistricting Prince William County

By Greg L | 29 January 2010 | Prince William County | 8 Comments

Next year when Supervisors and members of the School Board in Prince William County face re-election, they’ll do so in magisterial districts that have been dramatically re-drawn based on U.S. Census figures that will be available later this year.  In the past ten years there have been pretty dramatic shifts in population as the county not only has grown tremendously, but that population growth has been anything but even.  The implications for the 2011 elections are substantial, providing opportunities and challenges for elected officials and those who might seek to challenge them alike.

Since the census figures aren’t available (the census has hardly begun, in fact), let’s take a look at this using the voting figures from the 2007 election when the supervisors last ran.  While voter turnout might not perfectly correlate to actual population figures, they don’t vary too considerably and the differences tend to even out across the fifteen or so precincts that are within a magisterial district.  There also were inevitably population changes since 2007, but most of the population changes happened in the earlier part of the decade.  So while this isn’t a perfect basis to evaluate what’s going to happen, it should give us a pretty good rough idea of what the major changes in the magisterial districts will look like assuming that a new Magisterial District isn’t created as part of the process.

In 2007, 51,676 votes were cast for supervisor candidates and the differences in the number of votes cast in each Magisterial District were in some cases rather substantial.  Let’s look at the districts that are going to get a lot smaller, first, and forecast what shifts in the current voting precincts (that will also be redrawn, combined and divided themselves) will likely be.

Brentsville:  No surprise here as a huge amount of the residential development in the county was in this huge district.  In 2007 10,218 votes were cast for supervisor, 38.4% more votes than the average.  This district is going to shrink tremendously, likely down to about 60% of its present size in order to achieve population parity with other districts, and cast off roughly five present-day precincts to districts that have comparatively shrunk.  Most likely, Brentsville will shift a little to the north and cast off southern and eastern areas to another district, while picking up Glenkirk from the Gainesville District that is somewhat of a geographic anomaly.  The likely candidates for removal are the Parkside, Buckhall, Bennett, Park, Victory and Ellis precincts.

Gainesville: Again, no surprise here as the dynamic in Brentsville is replicated on a slightly smaller scale.  In 2007 there were 9,836 votes cast for supervisor, 33% above the average magisterial district vote total in the county.  The eleven current-day precincts will shrink by about four before they’re re-drawn themselves.  Most likely the precincts to be shed will either be to the south or east with current-day Glenkirk, Sinclair, Stonewall, Mullen and Westgate precincts as the likely candidates.

Coles: Coles saw a decent amount of residential development over the last decade as well, pulling in 8,221 votes for supervisor in the 2007 elections, 11.4% higher than the average.  Since Coles will shed one of its nine current day precincts and borders on two massively shrinking magisterial districts, about the only way to make this work is to pick up the entire district, move it north, and perhaps even change the name.  Coles could well extend all the way to present-day Sinclair and Mullen precincts in the Gainesville District and those shed by Brentsville to turn into a crescent surrounding the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park.

When you have some districts shrinking, some are going to have to expand, and here are the ones that are going to see some pretty remarkable geographic growth:

Neabsco: This district only polled 4,821 votes in 2007 for Supervisor, running 34.7% behind the average.  This district is going to pick up four current-day precincts that likely will come from the Coles District that was shifted north-west.  Because of geographic growth in Woodbridge and Dumfries, it is likely it will swap a precinct or three with them and pick up those losses with precincts to the north that were previously in the Coles District. There are seemingly endless possibilities in how to shoe-horn this district in between all the movement happening around it

Woodbridge:  This district only polled 4,863 votes in 2007, 34.5% under the average.  Just as is the case with Neabsco, Woodbridge will add three or four current-day precincts.  Potential pick-ups would be Occoquan  and Bethel precincts in the Occoqauan District, Civic Center and Neabsco precincts in the Neabsco District, and Potomac precinct in the Dumfries District.

Dumfries: Dumfries cast 6,756 votes for supervisor in 2007, about 8.5% under the average vote total and will pick up one current-day precinct.  If it has to cast off Potomac precinct to Woodbridge, Dumfries would then wrap around to start picking up precincts the Coles district left behind when it shifted.

Occoquan: This district cast 6,916 votes for supervisor in 2007, 5.7% below the average.  Likely it will pick up part of a current-day precinct, most likely in McCoart or Westridge.  If this District gets pushed north-east by Woodbridge, it’ll likely have to find a new name as the Occoquan precinct would then be part of Woodbridge.

So with all this shifting around, much of which is pretty inevitable given that Woodbridge and Neabsco have to grow and Brentsville and Gainesville have to shrink and comparatively more population-stable Districts in between to shift northward, the possibility of elected officials facing some major changes in their electorate are enormous.  If Gainesville sheds off it’s more Democratic-leaning precincts around Manassas, it will be a virtual electoral fortress for conservatives, and lending the new former Coles district some competitive precincts for both parties.   Brentsville would only grow a deeper shade of red while lending some pretty conservative precincts to the relocated Coles District, balancing out the competition there introduced by the Gainesville District cast-offs.  Woodbridge would expand into the town of Occoquan and intrude on Dumfries putting some potentially strong challengers to Frank Principi within his district.  Marty Nohe would almost certainly be drawn out of his current district and be faced with either challenging Corey Stewart for Chairman or Supervisor John Jenkins in Neabsco if he wanted to stay in office.  There could well be other causes for what promises to be an election merry-go-round after these lines get redrawn, but these seem to be the most obvious ones.

Another consideration is the impact of redistricting for the Virginia House and Senate, which could prompt current elected officials at the local level to run for state office.  Here we see a possibility that John Stirrup or Wally Covington take advantage of the new House or Senate districts that will be put in the Gainesville and Brentsville magisterial districts.  Since delegates will be running for election at the same time as county supervisors, incumbents will have a choice as to whether they run for an open house seat or a supervisor seat in a re-drawn district.  I’ve no indication at all whether Covington or Stirrup might run for the House of Delegates and frankly don’t expect them to, but it is a possibility.  Those new House districts will add to the mix of who is running and what they’re running for regardless, as we will without a doubt see a lot of new names on the ballot in 2011.

When these districts were mapped in 2000, each Magisterial District had roughly 40,000 residents and the county as a whole had a population of roughly 280,000.  Now we’re nearing 400,000 residents in the county and most of that growth has happened in three Magisterial Districts.  Although these likely shifts in the way the district boundaries will be drawn might seem pretty extreme, considering this huge change in not only population but the distribution of that population throughout the county these are pretty modest changes.  That said, I’m going to be rather unhappy that my Supervisor will no longer be John Stirrup.  There’s just no way I can see that not happening.

UPDATE: For a map of the current precinct assignments, click here.

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  1. Just the Facts said on 29 Jan 2010 at 4:35 pm:
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    Greg, excellent analysis. I’ve been trying to find out more about how redistricting might impact us.

    Would you care to be a bit more adventurous in predicting what our incumbents (Republican and Democrat) might do and who, if anyone, you see as credible challengers on the horizon?

    My guess is that with the current level of dissatisfaction and redistricting the elections are truly going resemble a Wild West free-for-all. It should be fun.

  2. Greg L said on 29 Jan 2010 at 5:11 pm:
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    So many variables to consider…

    Supervisors: as I said, Marty Nohe will have to scramble to find a spot, and most likely he’ll run for Chairman. Very unlikely that he’ll get a Republican nomination from a convention which is sure to be the case. I expect John Stirrup to stay put unless redistricting yields him an opportunity to run for a Congressional spot. Covington will likely stay put. If Jenkins doesn’t retire (unlikely), he’ll stay put. Principi will run for re-election and may have a really tough race on his hands, especially if Connolly goes down. Potential Dem challengers are out there, but none likely with much of a chance.

    Senate: the 29th District will be split, and Colgan may not run for re-election, but we’ve seem him get pressured into staying in before. Jackson Miller has the inside track on winning a spot there. Fitzsimmonds may run as well. Jay O’Brien goes for a re-match against Barker, Toddy Puller is unlikely to get a challenger from PWC unless Julie Lucas gets back from Florida in time. Dems have a pretty thin bench here.

    House: 13th District splits in two full districts. Marshall will likely try for U.S. Senate but not until 2012, so he’ll go for re-election in whichever part of the old district he lives in. Numerous potential R’s to run there, most of them are on the PWCRC. 50th District grows into a couple more precincts and might open for a Manassas City Council member if Miller goes to the Senate — rumblings heard that Sheryl Bass might jump for that (ugh) but perhaps Aveni would challenge. 31st District generally stays the same unless we have a chance to promote Lingamfelter to Congress. Look for a strong challenger to Torian in the 52nd, not sure who, and Rich Anderson will consolidate in the 51st with little opposition.

    The key here is where the house and senate districts will be redrawn. We know the 13th House District and 29th Senate District will be split, but how that impacts other districts, I don’t know yet.

  3. Loudoun Insider said on 29 Jan 2010 at 6:44 pm:
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    Good analysis. We’ll be facing major redistricting challenges in Loudoun as well, but no one has any clue where it will all end up. Much will depend on how much the Dem BOS majority wants to play politics. Most growth has occured in the Dulles District which is at least three times as large as some of the smaller districts in population.

  4. Big Dog said on 29 Jan 2010 at 9:27 pm:
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    - I’m 99.9% sure this is Senator Colgan’s last term since he
    won’t run again. Jackson Miller would be a good
    choice for that seat. Jackson is very well thought of
    by a wide spectrum of citizens, especially in the City of

    - Councilman Aveni is a smart likeable and hard working
    individual, but he has a large younger family and may need
    his “day job” to pay the bills. Councilwomen Bass has
    an important role in her husband’s business and
    not sure serving in Richmond would appeal to her either.

    -Political junkies need to factor in the family/financial
    implications of running and serving in Richmond
    (An average delegate run requires you to raise around 250K
    for a 25K job that last two years — if you win ).

    - Bad news - all NoVa incumbents in state office will be taken
    to the woodshed for ineptness if the Local Composite
    Index is frozen for 2010-11 and our schools lose
    badly needed and deserved millions to southside schools.
    Good news - this is a bipartisan outrage. Kaine
    thought it up and apparently McDonnell has agreed to it.
    Shame on both of them.

  5. James Young said on 30 Jan 2010 at 6:24 pm:
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    Good analysis. One wonders whether — given the massive population growth in ten years (over 42% by my calculation) — the BOCS shouldn’t be expanded by at least two members.

  6. Anonymous said on 30 Jan 2010 at 6:33 pm:
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    So long as Marty, Jenkins and Covington are on the board there won’t be an expansion eight votes is easier to manipulate than ten, and with those three its all about manipulation.

  7. Brian said on 30 Jan 2010 at 8:01 pm:
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    Miller’s district is underpopulated so he will pick up safe precincts in Gainesville from Marshall. Marshall will get completely out of Loudoun.

    Mathematically, PWC will only pickup 1/2 of a HoD seat.

    No where for Lingamfelter to go but further into Fauquier.

    Having Lingamfelter, Anderson, Marshall & Miller live so close to each other makes things difficult.

  8. Conservative 2 said on 31 Jan 2010 at 1:36 pm:
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    Some of this sounds OK. I do disagree with Fitzsimmonds being a good candidate. He will not give up his high paying job that he pulled off at the Clerks Office. They all sold the Repb. down the drain and may they never go any further.

    Lucas is taking care of her father and she has accepted a position with McDonald in Richmond and she apparently is not comming back to P. W. Thats to bad as Julie has it over the rest who won and it is best that she moves on to greater things where she will be appreciated.

    We need some new energetic blood in the Woodbridge District. The old ones who ran these past few elections need to hang it up and we need to find a go getter now.

    Keep your eyes open so we can get someone who will bring Woodbridge to the level it should be.

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