Town Is Ready To Redistrict
Published 4:27 pm Thursday, March 24, 2011
FARMVILLE – The Town is set to begin earnestly addressing redistricting now that Longwood University's spring break is over.
Five LU students are on the Town's redistricting committee. The students were appointed after they were invited by Town Manager Gerald Spates to volunteer for the committee during Town Council's March meeting.
Interestingly, the major challenge for the Town's redistricting involves getting a dorm by dorm breakdown of student residencies because the Census results basically lumped all Longwood students into one High Street address.
Farmville will be assisted by the Commonwealth Regional Council and its specially-designed computer software.
“The county said the software was amazing,” Town Council member Dr. Edward I. Gordon told council members this month regarding Prince Edward's experience with redistricting-which the county has already completed.
Town Manager Spates said Farmville should have no real difficulty with the Longwood University numbers because LU's student housing officials can provide the population of each dormitory.
“It won't be that hard to do though because we can get that from housing at Longwood,” Spates observed this month. “What we'll do is we'll get that from Longwood and then it will be plugged into the software…So what we'd have to do is get those wards and get the exact numbers that are in those dorms…It's no problem.”
During Town Council's regularly scheduled March meeting, Spates explained the redistricting process to Longwood students who regularly attend the monthly meetings and had invited Town Council to a dinner shared prior to the meeting.
“Each of you are residents in the Town of Farmville,” he reminded the students in a class focused on active citizenship and taught by Dr. Heather Lettner-Rust. “With the population going up from 6,845 to a little over 8,200 we have to redistrict. We have to re-draw the lines so that all five of the wards that we have are equal, have an equal number of people.
“Two or three of the wards encompass a large portion of Longwood University. So we have to draw all of those boundary lines and re-draw them…” Spates explained.
Ward B is one of the wards that includes many LU students and that ward's council representative, Sally Thompson, said, “I have a terrible problem because so many of the people in my district are students so when voting time comes we come up short.”
Because so many students don't vote in Farmville even though the Census includes them as part of the population and they legally can vote in the town.
“I think a lot of students vote at home,” Spates explained, before issuing his invitation for students to help with the redistricting that is required every 10 years based on new Census results. “But if any of you are willing to work on it I'm sure that Council would entertain having some of you serve on that redistricting committee.”
“You don't have to be registered and you don't have to vote” to serve on the committee, Dr. Gordon noted, “although we'd like people to vote.”
Town officials said this week that the committee is now set to begin its work.
The redistricting plan for Farmville's five wards must be approved the United States Department of Justice.