Eight citizens were chosen by a panel of retired Virginia Circuit Court judges on January 6 to fill out the membership of the new bipartisan redistricting commission created by the constitutional amendment that voters passed on their November ballots.
In a Zoomed meeting that concluded just before a mob stormed Capitol Hill, the judges selected the members from a list of 60-some names proposed by the General Assembly’s four party leaders. More than 1,200 Virginians submitted applications during the month-long filing window and each leader, as required, put forth at least 16 names. From each of those four lists, the judges worked to develop consensus on two appointments.
The judges repeatedly commented on the “impressive” and brilliant” list of applicants from which they had to choose. They also worked to appoint a slate that met statutory requirements for attention to geographic, gender and racial diversity.
The citizen group comprises six men and two women who come from Fairfax, Alexandria, Mechanicsville, Fredericksburg, Bristol, South Boston, Richmond and Virginia Beach. Four are White, two are Black or African-American, one is Asian, one is multi-racial and one is of Hispanic ethnicity. Five of the members are 52 or under, and three of the members are between the ages of 60 and 74. The citizens are evenly divided between persons who identify themselves as Democrats or Republicans.
With the eight legislators who were previously chosen by the General Assembly’s four leaders, the full 16-member commission will include 11 men and five women, 10 persons who described themselves as White (including one Hispanic) and six persons who are persons of color or multi-racial. The commission is scheduled to hold its first meeting on or before February 1, when it will choose one of the citizen members as its chair.
Citizens selected for the commission were:
Nominated by Senate President Pro Tempore Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth:
- James Abrenio, 37, of Fairfax, a trial lawyer.
- Sean S. Kumar, 41, of Alexandria, a strategic advisor and lawyer.
Nominated House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax:
- Brandon Christopher Hutchins, 39, of Virginia Beach, a military veteran and health care professional.
- Greta J. Harris, 60, of Richmond, president and CEO of the Better Housing Coalition.
Nominated by Senate Minority Leader Tommy Norment, R-James City:
- Marvin W. Gilliam Jr., 64, of Bristol, a retired coal mining executive.
- Richard O. Harrell III, 74, of South Boston, a trucking executive.
Nominated by House Minority Leader Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah:
- Jose A. Feliciano Jr., 52, of Fredericksburg, a military veteran and federal agent with the Federal Communication Commission’s Public Safety Bureau.
- Mackenzie K. Babichenko, 36, of Mechanicsville, an assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney in Hanover County.
The previously announced legislator members are:
- Lucas appointees: Sens. Mamie Locke of Hampton and George Barker of Fairfax
- Filler-Corn appointees: Dels. Marcus Simon of Fairfax and Delores McQuinn of Richmond
- Norment appointees: Sens. Steve Newman of Lynchburg and Ryan McDougle of Hanover
- Gilbert appointees: Dels. Les Adams of Chatham and Margaret Ransone of Westmoreland
Materials related to the commission’s proceedings, including the full applications of the citizen members, can be reviewed on the website of the Division of Legislative Services at Virginia Division of Legislative Services.
–Sara Fitzgerald, LWV-Falls Church