Community meetings pushed forward
City Council gives Lynchburg locals a voice in the redistricting process
Lynchburg City Council is currently hosting a set of community meetings as it moves forward in the redistricting process.
Before the plans are voted on for approval, the meetings give citizens a chance to speak with members of council and voice their concerns.
The meetings began Oct. 6 at Bass Elementary School and continued Oct. 13 at Bedford Hills Elementary. The meetings will conclude at the public library on Oct. 20.
City Attorney Walter Erwin opened the floor to those at Bass Elementary, but no one presented concerns.
“I think having gone through redistricting before, I now know what to expect,” Erwin said. “People don’t like moving from their regular polling place. But so far, through the first meeting, we haven’t heard any complaints.”
The meetings are primarily to inform citizens on changes with their voting location. Erwin explained those changes as necessary changes to keep each ward within the plus or minus five percent of the ideal population. Since Lynchburg has four wards, the total population divided by four gives officials their benchmark number. When the population per ward is not within the five percent allowance, redistricting is used to make those necessary changes.
The community meetings were not scheduled to take place until November. With meetings that late in the year, changes in voting locations would not be in effect until May of 2012. Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. addressed city officials requesting that the timetable be pushed forward, as he saw no need for the delay. According to Erwin, he was not alone in his belief.
“There was a heavy turnout in support for the change,” he said. “So now it’s been moved up.”
The changes will allow students to vote on campus for the presidential primaries in March. The move will be a welcome change for both Liberty students and Heritage voters due to heavy congestion in recent elections.
Additionally, others will have a new polling center. Approximately 760 voters from Miller Park will be moving from ward three into ward two, according to Erwin. Their new polling place will be R.S. Payne Elementary instead of the public library. Plans also include those voting at Fairview Christian Church to move out of ward three and into ward two, but voting will remain at Fairview.
Ward one will experience changes, as those in the Moose Lodge precinct will begin voting at Bedford Hills Elementary School. This change accounts for the new 22nd Senate District added by the General Assembly. The new district is described as “long and skinny,” according to Attorney Erwin. Democrat Bert Dodson, a Lynchburg businessman, is running for state representative against Republican Tom Garrett in this newly formed district.
In addition to Erwin, Tom Martin, the Lynchburg city planner, will be speaking at the meetings.
City Council’s formal public hearing will be held in November before the final vote takes place.