Richmond Times-Dispatch

Applicatio­ns openMonday for state redistrict­ing panel

Retired judges will select eight citizens for the commission

- BY ANDREWCAIN acain@timesdispa­tch.com (804) 649-6645 Twitter: @AndrewCain­RTD

Five retired circuit court judges on Wednesday signed off on a detailed applicatio­n process for selecting citizen members of Virginia’s new redistrict­ing commission.

In a 90-minute virtual meeting, the judges voted to take applicatio­ns for the eight citizen members of the panel from Monday, Nov. 30 through Monday, Dec. 28.

In approving a state constituti­onal amendment Nov. 3, Virginia voters set in motion a new commission that will redraw the boundaries of the state’s congressio­nal and legislativ­e districts next year. The bipartisan commission will be made up eight lawmakers and eight citizens.

The retired circuit court judges will select the citizen members of the commission by Jan. 15.

“We all want this to work and we want every citizen to be engaged,” retired Petersburg Circuit Court Judge Pamela Baskervill, chair of the Redistrict­ing Commission Selection Committee, said near the end of Wednesday’s meeting.

“We all consider it quite a privilege to be able to work together to make this happen” with greater inclusiven­ess, she said.

Baskervill served on the Petersburg Circuit Court for 13 years, finishing as chief judge. The four other retired judges on the panel — chosen by legislator­s — selected Baskervill this week as the fifth judge and chair of the selection committee.

House Democrats chose Joanne F. Alper, who was a circuit court judge in Arlington County from 1998-2012 after serving for seven years as a judge in juvenile and domestic relations court.

House Republican­s picked Larry B. Kirksey, a former Bristol commonweal­th’s attorney and City Council member who was a circuit court judge from 2004-2012.

Senate Democrats chose David Pugh, who was the first African American judge in Newport News. Virginia legislator­s first elected him to serve as a General District Court judge in 1990. He became a circuit court judge in 2003 and retired in 2017.

Senate Republican­s chose William C. Andrews III, who retired in 2007 as a Hampton Circuit Court judge.

The applicatio­n

The Division of Legislativ­e Services will post the applicatio­n form at redistrict­ing.dls.virginia. gov.

Applicants can complete the form online and submit via email at varedist@dls.virginia.gov

Applicants also can mail the form to the Division of Legislativ­e Services, ATTN: Selection Committee, at 900 E. Main Street Richmond, Va., 23219

State law requires applicants to provide informatio­n regarding their race, ethnicity, gender, age, date of birth, education, and household income.

Applicants must disclose, for the previous three years, their voter registrati­on status; preferred political party affiliatio­n, if any; and any political party primary elections in which they have voted.

Citizens are ineligible if they have sought partisan elected office, if they have worked for Congress or the General Assembly or if they have been employed by a political party or campaign. Lobbyists also are ineligible.

An applicant also is ineligible if he or she is “a parent, spouse, child, sibling, parent-in-law, childin-law, or sibling-in-law” of someone in those categories or if such a person is “a cohabitati­ng member of a household” with the applicant.

By the end of December the Division of Legislativ­e Services will give copies of the eligible citizen applicatio­ns to legislativ­e leaders. House and Senate Democratic and Republican leaders will each then give the judges lists of at least 16 potential citizen members of the panel.

By Jan. 15 the judges, meeting in public, will select two people from each of the four lists to come up with the eight citizen members of the redistrict­ing commission.

The judges took several votes during Wednesday’s meeting to tweak the applicatio­n. They voted to add a section asking why the applicant is interested in applying and to emphasize that incomplete applicatio­ns will not be considered.

The judges voted 3-2 to require three letters of recommenda­tion, with Andrews, Kerksey and Baskervill voting yes and Pugh and Alper voting no.

Kerksey and Andrews said letters of recommenda­tion can boost transparen­cy and offer revealing testaments to an applicant’s character. Alper raised concerns that the requiremen­t could be a burden and a hindrance for some applicants.

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