Community Leaders from Southside Virginia Speak Up!

On Tuesday morning, several community leaders from Southside Virginia presented their comments on the draft maps for their counties, cities and towns. They expressed their views on which counties and cities should and should not be grouped together in a district.

Will Pace, Mayor of Chatham in Pittsylvania County, thought the Senate draft maps “look perfect” as drawn, and asked the Commission to “leave it the way it is.” Pittsylvania, Henry and Franklin Counties as well as the cities of Danville and Martinsville are all kept “whole” (in District 36 on both maps). He noted that in (both) House maps (A5, B4), Pittsylvania County is split north/south, which is preferred to an east/west split because of communities of interest. “Keeping Hurt, Gretna, and Chatham together in one (district) is great” in northern Pittsylvania County. Though not perfect, these maps are better. Pace
had one question : “Why do they keep putting Floyd County with Patrick County? Floyd should be with Montgomery County as part of the New River Valley.“ He finished with a word of wisdom to “please keep an eye on Senator Stanley,” which drew a laugh from the Commissioners.

Danny Tucker, the former Mayor of Martinsville and senior member of the Martinsville City Council spoke next. Having lived in Martinsville and working 28 years in Danville , he noted that the two cities are “totally different” with little interaction between or among residents. He would like to see a district with Martinsville and Patrick and Franklin Counties, rather than pairing Martinsville and Danville.

Wallace Hudson of South Hill in Mecklenburg County “would like us to remain the way we are in our district” now, especially regarding Halifax and Mecklenburg Counties. The current plan has “served us well in the past. Any plans to break it up” would “hurt.”

Tammy Mulchi serves on the Clarksville Town Council. She agreed with Hudson that Mecklenburg and Halifax are similar – there’s no sense to separate them. Keep those counties together. She noted that one map does separate the two localities.

Rick Buchanan echoed the two previous speakers. He was born and raised in Clarksville and has moved back there. Halifax and Mecklenburg are “tied together in lots of ways,” including industry and working environment ties. As drawn, this district on Senate map A5 goes up through Halifax and Cumberland, a “unique, rural area” and we are “all pretty much the same.” He strongly recommended keeping map A5, saying it would be very well represented by a senator.

Kathy Lawson, the Mayor of Martinsville, said she looked at the maps. Some would move Martinsville (Henry County) “into an area with Danville (Pittsylvania County). That would be a negative impact to our community.” She supports House A7 and B6 maps and Senate map B4. Those maps “align us with our colleagues in Patrick County.” [editor’s note: Both Senate maps A5 and B4 have Martinville, and Henry County in the same district as Martinsville (36), with Patrick County in a different district (39)]

Ted Daniel was town manager of South Boston in Halifax County for sixteen years, 1998-2014. He described those years as “turbulent” as they faced the closure of textile plants and the loss of tobacco economy and went into “survival mode.” Cooperation was important when facing these economic challenges. “We came together to meet the solid waste challenge” by building the Mecklenburg Regional Landfill. We share needs, values, social . To split Halifax from Mecklenburg is in no way consistent with the way they work together, including as part of the Southside Planning District.“Separation would not be in the best interest of residents.”

John Hamlin was mayor of Danville for 6 years ad served on the City Council for 20. The stoppage of textile and elimination of tobacco was a challenge. We have started to turn around the economy. “To link us with Martinsville would not be a proper thing. Martinsville is looking to go to town status; the whole ballgame would change.” He would support House maps A7 and B6.

Volpe Boykin said when redrawing districts, when possible, cities should be kept in districts as much like themselves as possible. “Rural and city people,” he said, “live different. When we have the same representative, that representative can’t represent” both groups. 

The next public hearings will be held on Wednesday and Thursday at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The focus will be on the following regions:
Wed. 10/6 @ 10 am : Eastern Region @ 4 pm : Central Region
Thur 10/7 @ 10 am : Valley Region @ 4 pm : West Central Region
You can view livestream here : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCm3rp8xB4H2zWbasznvZ5Fw/videos

LWV-VA Redistricting Observer Corps –

Chris DeRosa, LWV-ARL
Peggy Layne, LWV-MC

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