2010 Census, redistricting and Franklin

Published 8:01 am Friday, November 5, 2010

by Dawn Yurkas

Many of us spent Tuesday evening watching local, state and national elections and the political dynamics play out across the country.

Even I was not immune to the television coverage. This got me wondering how my districts in my community were drawn, and if those who are being elected by us are actually able to represent my community without activism and special-interest influence.

Most citizens don’t realize that Virginia is in the process of redistricting upon the release of the 2010 Census information in February. I was trying to remember if any public notice was given to this very important process about to commence in every state.

I found a letter from the State Legislation Board about redistricting and the meetings for this event that have already happened. (http://dlsgis.state.va.us/Ref/NewsReleases/NewsRelease082310.pdf)

Discouraged that citizens of Virginia by and large were not privy to redistricting information, I decided to view district maps online from the state. You can view large area maps, but there is no map available showing the exact lines for House District 75 and Senate District 18.

The State of Virginia’s website shows the districts of our state legislature for state delegates and senators. The City of Franklin is represented by Democrat Roslyn Tyler in the 75th District; her office is located in Jarratt. District 75 covers part of Brunswick, Isle of Wight, Lunenburg and Southampton counties; part of the City of Franklin; and all of Greensville and Sussex counties and the city of Emporia.

The State of Virginia website also shows me that my state senator is Democrat L. Louise Lucas of the 18th District. The 18th District covers part of Isle of Wight, Lunenburg, Southampton and Brunswick counties and the cities of Franklin and Chesapeake; and all of Emporia, Franklin and Greensville, Sussex and Nottoway counties.

As a resident of the City of Franklin, it is puzzling to me why I am represented in districts 75 and 18, which encompass only part of my city.

Why is there a dividing line? How come the whole City of Franklin is not represented by the same delegate and the same state senator? Does my tax money only go to one part of the City of Franklin? Does my mayor only represent part of the city? Did the closure of International Paper only affect part of Franklin?

Why is my Senate representation in the state legislature lumped in with Portsmouth and Chesapeake? Portsmouth and Chesapeake are large cities, and issues that affect these areas 40-plus miles away from my community are much different than what affect Franklin.

And curiously, why is my state Senate representation different if I live at 107 High St. in Franklin (the 18th Senate District), than if I walked across the street to 201 High St. (the 13th District, represented by Sen. Fred Quayle)? One house is the south side of West Second, and the other house is on the north side of West Second.

For too long there have been dividing lines when it comes to all manners of representative districts, whether on the local, state and congressional levels.

And when there is a bill in the Senate that affects Franklin as a whole, how are we going to obtain fair representation when we have to deal with two different state senators? The state did not do this to the City of Emporia, however it was done to the City of Franklin.

We need one delegate and one senator who represent us as a whole community. I don’t want a representative voting on issues because the majority of his constituents reside in Portsmouth and Chesapeake.

Franklin needs equal representation in the state House and Senate. We are all in this together. We should be united, not divided.

We need to become united. We need one delegate and one senator, so when he is not doing his job, we can hold his feet to the fire, make him accountable and vote him out of office when he is not representing us a unified whole, not as parts of a pie.

Make a call, write a letter, let your delegate and senators know we do not want a divided community any longer. You can write Jack Austin at jaustin@dls.virginia.gov, with the Division of Legislative Services. The telephone number is (804) 786-3591.

DAWN YURKAS is a Franklin resident and is a Realtor with United Country A.B. Cole Associates Auction & Realty in Suffolk. She can be reached at dawnyurkas@gmail.com.