Saturday, February 26, 2011

Shea the Plumber?

I couldn't resist this brief moment from Thursday night's introductions at the redistricting committee meeting. Republican Shea Cook decided to inject a little humor (I think) and described himself as a part time student at Southwest Virginia Community College who was studying to be a plumber. As in Joe the Plumber? I'm not sure...

In case you don't know, Shea has his own law practice and has been the GOP candidate for Commonwealth's Attorney.

Text: My name is Shea Cook. This is the first time I've had to serve on the redistricting committee and I'm looking forward to serving along with all of you. Like everybody here I'm a lot of things to a lot of different people. I'm a part time student at Southwest Virginia Community College. That's one of the things that I do. I'm learning how to be a plumber, and uh (laughter)... so I'm looking forward to working with you all and help as much as I can the people of Tazewell County.

Second Redistricting Committee Meeting

Tazewell County's redistricting committee met for a second time on Thursday night (Feb. 24). The meeting was largely informational. Members received data on precinct populations in 2000 and on voter turnout by precinct over the last decade.

District population totals are available for the 2010 Census, but not for individual precincts within those districts yet.

Here are the 2010 population totals:
District2010 population

The redistrict committee has been given an ideal population that each district should be: 9,015. But there is an allowable margin of plus or minus five percent. So district populations must be between 8,565 and 9,465 by the end of the redistrict process. While a five percent margin is allowable, the Federal courts are more comfortable with a three percent maximum variation from the ideal population number. That would mean keeping district populations between 8,744 and 9,285. All five Tazewell County districts are within that range.

With the districts all within the Federal "comfort margin," any redrawing of the count's district lines would have to be motivated by political concerns, not legal issues.

When the committee meets again the focus will likely be on individual voting precincts. A number of concerns have been raised that could impact precinct lines. Some current voting locations are developing issues with handicapped access; compliance with handicapped accessibility laws can impact federal funding for election costs. At least one precinct was mentioned where some voters have asked to be relocated to another precinct because they have to drive across a mountain to reach their voting location. The county's implementation of the 911 system has resulted in the relocation of some voters from one precinct to another as GPS mapping data created more precise maps of where those voters lived.

The committee will meet again in late March. Below you can view video of Thursday's meeting.