Citizens of all political persuasions agree that gerrymandering — the deliberate manipulation of legislative district boundaries to benefit a particular party or to disadvantage an opposing party — undermines the democratic process.
Independent authorities have ranked Virginia as the fifth most gerrymandered state based on the lack of compactness and contiguity of its districts.
In the interest of learning more about this important issue and what is being done to address the problem, the Lake of the Woods Democratic Club will conduct a public program April 21, featuring Brian Cannon, executive director of OneVirginia2021. The organization is a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy group whose goal is an amendment to the Virginia Constitution to establish an independent, impartial commission to apply a fair and transparent process in drawing political districts after the next U.S. Census in 2020.
The program will be held at 1:30 p.m. on April 21 in the meeting room of the LOW Community Center. A meet-and-greet sessions will begin at 1 p.m. Everyone, regardless of political affiliation, is welcome.
In Virginia, state legislators redraw district lines for the U.S. Congress, the House of Delegates and the State Senate after every 10-year census. Under the current system, the party in power in the House and the party in power in the Senate can draw the lines to serve their own interests. As a result, 56 candidates in the House of Delegates faced no real competition in the general election in 2013, with 22 Democrats and 34 Republicans facing no major-party challenger. Of the remaining 44 races, only 19 were considered competitive to some degree. In the end, only two seats changed parties.
In 2013, a group of concerned citizens came together in Charlottesville to discuss redistricting in the Commonwealth. From that meeting OneVirginia2021 was born. The group partners with individuals and organizations to raise awareness, provide information and work with legislators to implement meaningful reform. Members of the coalition range from progressives and independents to Tea Party conservatives.
Mr. Cannon has been executive director of OneVirginia2021 since January 2015. He has more than a decade of experience in non-profit leadership, community building, fundraising, and bipartisan advocacy for state policy issues. Previously, he worked as a consultant with startups and high-growth companies.
Mr. Cannon received his bachelor of arts and Juris Doctor degrees from the College of William and Mary. He and his wife, Kelly, live in Richmond with their son. When not working on redistricting reform he serves on several non-profit boards and plays rec league football.
- OneVirginia2021 Web Site
- “Jerry Mandering, Your Representative Probably” video
- A resolution in support of redistricting reform
- “Supreme court weighs legality of Virginia redistricting” from The Hill