The core issue that underlies the dysfunction, gridlock, and disrespect in Richmond is the current redistricting process where the Party in power, Democratic or Republican, goes behind closed doors, chooses its own criteria, and draws maps where they actually choose their voters rather than allowing citizens to choose their elected officials. It is the deliberate manipulation of district lines for political power. As a result, we live the fifth most gerrymandered state in the Union.
"Look at the last General Election. The difference separating Ed Gillespie and Senator Warner was less than one percentage point. We arguably live in a purple state. But the closest Congressional District in the state was 16 points. There is no doubt to the outcomes. At the local level that means there is a disincentive for state legislators to debate ideas to find solutions and work together on the issues." - former Delegate Shannon Valentine
81 seats in the House of Delegates are completely safe; the remaining 19 are considered somewhat competitive but rarely feature an opposing major party candidate. There might be 10 races where there is a doubt about the outcome and maybe two seats change out each election.
59 localities in the House districts are divided. 46 of 40 in the state Senate are divided meaning they are divided more than once. Culpepper residents, for instance, are represented by three different Senators. In Lynchburg there are 72,000 households and there are four different ballots required.
Since the February 2014 launch of One Virginia 2021; Virginians for Fair Redistricting the group has built an organization with a foundation and a public policy council. They are committed to being multi-partisan. 40% of Virginians consider themselves independent. There is a member of the Tea Party Executive Committee on the policy council. All of them know what is at stake with redistricting. Shannon Valentine is one of many disciples crisscrossing the state encouraging redistricting reform.
A pair of bald eagles has been returning since 2002 and raising a couple of eaglets near the U.S. 29 Monacan Bridge, according to the Lynchburg Bird Club. Another pair of bald eagles had been nesting since 2003 in a tree along the James in Camp Saca-jawea, a Girl Scout property just upstream from Lynchburg. (Those eagles abandoned that nesting site last winter, perhaps because of people trying to photograph them. Eagles thrive in environments that are quiet and have clean water.)
The return of bald eagles to Virginia was first noted along the Chesapeake Bay and lower James River in the 1970s. Since then, they have been seen nesting as far west in Virginia as Highland County and Pulaski County. Now, my home town can be added to the list.