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Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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Mapping Out the County’s Future

At tonight’s public input meeting on redistricting, most people asked for more involvement in the process. Six people spoke. Many wanted a citizens advisory committee.

Some interest groups represented include:

NAACP wants a citizen advisory committee and two new districts “to better serve the massive increase in population over the past 30 years.” Worries the unequal growth in the northern part of the county is diluting minority voting power.

Committee of 500 also asked for a citizens advisory group. “C500 envisions that such a group would be composed of individuals and group representatives, appointed by the board, who represent diverse interests.” This group would draft a redistricting plan with help from county staff.

Spotsylvania Citizens Roundtable for Political Action wants a citizens advisory group and nine districts. The additional districts would help minorities attain more political influence.

At the meeting, county spokeswoman Kathy Smith said residents can submit questions and comments by emailing her at ksmith@spotsylvania.va.us or emailing the administration at coadmin@spotsylvania.va.us. Details can be found by going to the county website and clicking on the link about redistricting. That site is: www.spotsylvania.va.us.

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/spotsygovt/2010/12/08/mapping-out-the-countys-future/

  • bhaas

    According to the Virginia Association of Counties; only 7 counties have a BOS with more than 7 members. They are: Accomack – 9; Fairfax – 10; Halifax – 8; Loudon – 9; Mecklenburg – 9; Prince Edward – 8; Prince William – 8. Of these, four counties have populations that are approximately 1/3 or less than Spotsy. Three are seriously more populated.

    I am unsure population is, or should be, the governing factor for BOS size. If it did, Fairfax would have many more members than 10 or, conversely, we would likely have fewer than 7.

    Finally, those requesting more “involvement” in the process seem, to this observer, to have ulterior motives beyond simple representation. That opens the door for “politics” to waltz through and “spoil the music.”

  • LarryG

    Yes. I was disappointed that they all wanted more involvement but really did not seem to have a particular approach in mind other than they apparently were concerned where boundaries would be drawn.

    I would have preferred to see a more thoughtful approach with some specific goals.

    County citizens do have the right, via citizen-initiated referenda to choose the type of government and the number of BOS but I don’t see any thoughts from these groups as to comparing and contrasting the pros/cons of type of governance and number of BOS.

    As a side note, Mr. Haas did take the initiative to obtain two lists. One with the number of BOS in each Va county as well as their style of governance.

    I was surprised to see a number of EVEN NUMBERED BOS boards including FAIRFAX!

  • http://rightwingliberal.wordpress.com/ D.J. McGuire

    In their defense, the population data isn’t in yet. It’s a little difficult to talk about how they, or we, or anyone else, want the lines drawn when we don’t know where the people are.

    I myself was at the hearing, FWIW, and also asked for nine districts. History shows us that as districts get more populated, there is greater disconnect between the electors and the elected; campaigns get more expensive (leading to greater influence from donors); and constituent service becomes more collective than individual, leading to larger and more centralized government.

    At least that’s how I see it.

    Thirty years ago, the Board went from 5 to 7 seats to prevent districts growing to 7,000 constituents on average. Today, it’s over 17,000 on average. Just sayin’

  • http://fredericksburg.com Vince Onorato

    Doesn’t much matter how many districts there are. If the populace doesn’t keep current on the issues beyond what the FLS publishes, special interests will determine the direction of County politics. Question? Why hasn’t any Supervisor ever appointed a minority to the planning commision?

  • http://UmqaoU GIVEMEABREAK2M

    Mr. Onorato where have you been? There is a “minority” appointed to the Planning Commission he represents the Courtland District and his name is Clift Vaughan. So much for “keeping current.”

  • http://fredericksburg.com Vince Onorato

    I have a name…what’s yours gimme?

  • bhaas

    From my perspective, I hope we do not go with more districts. I do not think that will solve problems, but result in more problems.

    Yes, we may need to adjust some district boundaries to remain “legal”, but that is what the exercise is, after all, all about.

    After viewing the joint work session of the BOS and PC this afternoon; I can honestly say that I do not have a good feeling about these UDA’s. I am very uncomfortable with the advice being offered up by the consultant.

  • LarryG

    staggered terms. All of them elected at large. with the top vote getter being the chair. Some localities in Va do not have elected Constitutional Officers. All those functions are administratively under the County Administrator.

    What’s the argument for and against – incorporating those functions into administrative positions?

  • Sillyyouare1957

    LarryG what are you thinking about? Your idea will only cost the taxpayers more money. Money that the county doesn’t have. Your idea will only result in anothe rtax increase. At least the way it is now the State picks-up a good portion of the cost. That is with the exception of law enforcement. The State has failed for years to meet its obligation to properly pay its share of the law enforcement budget in Spotsylvania and other counties. It is time for Spotsylvania to convert from a Sheriff’s Dept. to a police department. There would certiainly be more accountability.

  • LarryG

    How will having everyone run at-large cost more money? One reason to favor it is for all voters to hold all BOS accountable and to get away from these petty arguments about who has more fire stations and dirt roads, and family subdivisions.

    As to the idea of the State “paying it’s share” – ha ha ha.

    Where do we think the State gets that money that they “share” with us?

    From US! We send it to Richmond where they take a cut of it for the State and send back whatever is left over.

    We are MUCH better off paying more locally if we want more – in my view.

    There are several different kinds of county governance that we can choose from. One kind – basically folds the Commissioner of Revenue, Treasurer an Sheriff into the county itself and those positions are no longer elective.

    Would doing that – save the county money or not?

    What would be the downside of doing that?

    This option, by the way, is one of a very few things that citizens themselves can initiate via referenda.

    So, in theory, even if the BOS was opposed – if enough citizens signed petitions it could be put to a county-wide vote.

    I’m not advocating the change but asking what others think of the idea although as a separate issue – I also like the idea of county citizens also having more of a role in what kind of governance we want.

  • http://UmqaoU GIVEMEABREAK2M

    It is real simple LarryG, The state contributes thousands of dollars towards the operation of Constitutional Offices. If the county takes total control of those responsibilities that would mean 100% of operation cost would have to come from county taxes and you would still have to pay the same tax dollars to the state. The state would just use those tax dollars elsewhere. We don’t get much from the state, however I don’t think the county taxpayers want the increased financial burden of fully funding the cost of constitutional offices which is millions in total cost.

  • LarryG

    So… essentially we lose the money instead of being able to re-allocate it otherwise if we abolish the Constitutional Offices?

    If that’s true.. you’re right … we’d lose….

  • http://rightwingliberal.wordpress.com/ D.J. McGuire

    Larry,

    At large seats assume that there are few or no regional differences within the county. Differences certainly exist between north and south, and I would submit between west and east, too.

  • LarryG

    How about 7 from districts and two at-large?

  • http://rightwingliberal.wordpress.com/ D.J. McGuire

    That won’t solve the district size issue I mentioned earlier, and adding at-larges could (and probably will) create a two-tier board in which district members angle for AL seats in the next election – to the detriment of their district constituents.

  • bhaas

    I am hearing that the geographical size of the Berkeley and Livingston districts are somehow a detriment to County government. The oldest members of the BOS now hold those seats and I do not hear a large clamor from their constituents that these gents are not serving them well. Nor have I heard that these two gents have complained that they cannot “cover their territory.”

    What I think I have heard is that because of the population sizes of the current districts there is a “span of control” or “disconnect” issue for the current members of the BOS. As I said earlier, there is a good chance, IMHO, that we are hearing cries for more supervisors because of ulterior motives.

    Larry has brought up a different issue that is worthy of some serious consideration. It is entirely possible that another form of county government may give us a more effective government.

    There are 6 distinctly different non-Charter forms of county government approved for Virginia. Currently, Spotsy uses the Traditional form as do all but 12 counties. Three of the 12, Roanoke, Chesterfield, and James City, have Charters. Two of the forms have population or population density requirements that have to be met to adopt either of them.

    This, to me, would be a more productive study than just adding two more districts to the current situation.

  • LarryG

    Here’s a list of all Va counties with each BOS size:

    http://goo.gl/FNFcM

  • bhaas

    Larry….When I selected http://goo.gl/FNFcM I was sent to a place asking me to log in to google. I did this, and then waited while I was redirected to a site where I could register for gmail. Never saw the County list.

    Perhaps something is wrong with my operating system, but the google links do not work for me.

  • bhaas

    At the risk of WRATH from the FLS…here is the list.

    COUNTY
    TOTAL BOS
    Accomack County
    9
    Albemarle County
    6
    Alleghany County
    7
    Amelia County
    5
    Amherst County
    5
    Appomattox County
    5
    Arlington County
    5
    Augusta County
    7
    Bath County
    5
    Bedford County
    7
    Bland County
    4
    Botetourt County
    5
    Brunswick County
    5
    Buchanan County
    7
    Buckingham County
    7
    Campbell County
    7
    Caroline County
    5
    Carroll County
    6
    Charles City County
    3
    Charlotte County
    7
    Chesterfield County
    5
    Clarke County
    5
    Craig County
    5
    Culpeper County
    7
    Cumberland County
    5
    Dickenson County
    5
    Dinwiddie County
    5
    Essex County
    4
    Fairfax County
    10
    Fauquier County
    5
    Floyd County
    5
    Fluvanna County
    6
    Franklin County
    7
    Frederick County
    7
    Giles County
    5
    Gloucester County
    7
    Goochland County
    5
    Grayson County
    5
    Greene County
    5
    Greensville County
    4
    Halifax County
    8
    Hanover County
    7
    Henrico County
    5
    Henry County
    6
    Highland County
    3
    Isle of Wight County
    5
    James City County
    5
    King and Queen County
    5
    King George County
    5
    King William County
    5
    Lancaster County
    5
    Lee County
    5
    Loudoun County
    9
    Louisa County
    7
    Lunenburg County
    7
    Madison County
    5
    Mathews County
    5
    Mecklenburg County
    9
    Middlesex County
    5
    Montgomery County
    7
    Nelson County
    5
    New Kent County
    5
    Northampton County
    6
    Northumberland County
    5
    Nottoway County
    5
    Orange County
    5
    Page County
    6
    Patrick County
    5
    Pittsylvania County
    7
    Powhatan County
    5
    Prince Edward County
    8
    Prince George County
    5
    Prince William County
    8
    Pulaski County
    5
    Rappahannock County
    5
    Richmond County
    5
    Roanoke County
    5
    Rockbridge County
    5
    Rockingham County
    5
    Russell County
    6
    Scott County
    7
    Shenandoah County
    6
    Smyth County
    7
    Southampton County
    7
    Spotsylvania County
    7
    Stafford County
    7
    Surry County
    5
    Sussex County
    6
    Tazewell County
    5
    Warren County*
    5
    Washington County
    7
    Westmoreland County
    5
    Wise County
    8
    Wythe County
    7
    York County
    5
    TOTALS:
    552

  • LarryG

    Sorry about the snafu. Notice how many counties have 9 or more BOS? 3?

  • bhaas

    Actually 4….Accomack, Fairfax, Loudon, and Mecklenburg.

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