By Del. Carrie Coyner
In the General Assembly, there are many opportunities to join caucuses which are groups of legislators who come together based on regions, based on political issues, or for social gatherings. I’m a member of the newly established Virginia Commonwealth Caucus, a bipartisan group of Virginia senators and delegates who are looking to find common ground on important issues and foster a service-focused culture in Virginia’s General Assembly. We are a diverse group of legislators from many ethnic, economic, religious, and racial backgrounds who share a common belief that our communities and commonwealth deserve better politics, focused on solutions.
The Commonwealth Caucus took a public stand together on the need for an independent redistricting process where those in office aren’t the decision makers for political boundaries. Every 10 years the General Assembly redraws district lines for elected office. The deep, political, divisive history of this process has plagued Virginia, and we finally have a path forward to give Virginians a nonpartisan redistricting commission to redraw Virginia’s U.S. congressional and state legislative district maps.
During the 2019 General Assembly session, there was bipartisan support (83-15) in the Republican-controlled House for a joint resolution that created this nonpartisan redistricting commission. The law required the same vote this year in order to put the constitutional amendment on your ballot, so we are trusting the now Democrat-controlled House to follow through with this bipartisan legislation.
Partisan gerrymandering of votes only serves those in power, not the people. Voting districts should be done using anti-gerrymandering criteria that include preserving “communities of interest” and ensure that districts are not drawn to favor one party over another. As I write this letter to you all, there is a constitutional amendment and redistricting commission legislation still awaiting a vote on the House and Senate floors. The constitutional amendment, coupled with the redistricting commission legislation, would establish a diverse group of citizens on a commission to draw the voting districts and would give voters the opportunity on the November ballot to take the power away from politicians and put the power in the hands of the people. The constitutional amendment and redistricting commission are the clearest, fairest, and least partisan means for drawing fair districts in the history of our commonwealth, and while the legislation isn’t perfect, it is the best path forward to give all communities fair representation.
As the delegate from your district, I look to constituents like you for input regarding the direction we should be heading as a commonwealth. Feel free to contact my office at (804) 698-1062 or through email at DelCCoyner@house.virginia.gov, if I can be of assistance to you in any way. You can also follow me on Twitter at @CarrieCoyner or like my Facebook page to receive additional updates on my daily activities. If you’d like to receive email updates or learn more about me, visit my website at www.carriecoyner.com.
Editor’s note: Delegate Carrie Coyner represents the 62nd House District, which covers parts of Chester, Enon, Hopewell, and Prince George. She will provide regular updates in the Village News during the General Assembly session.