The House Democratic Caucus today released its proposed redistricting plan and maps for the House’s 41 representative districts, and announced a public hearing on the plan for next week.
The House Democratic caucus today released its proposed redistricting plan and maps for the chamber’s 41 representative districts, and announced a public hearing on the plan for next week.
The proposal adds two new districts in Kent and Sussex counties – where population grew by 25.9 percent and 28.1 percent, respectively – by closing two districts in New Castle County – where population grew at a much slower 7.6 percent during the past decade.
The Democratic plan also preserves existing majority-minority districts in and around the city of Wilmington and groups the growing Hispanic population in and around Georgetown together in one district, increasing its percentage of the population in that district.
The House of Representatives is tasked with redrawing the districts every 10 years based on the decennial federal census. The census data was provided to Delaware in March, and the House began a month-long public input process in April before completing the draft plan this week.
Under the Democratic Caucus’ plan:Existing districts where more than half the population is a minority would remain and would retain their majority-minority status; Two northern New Castle County districts would be closed. Each is adjacent to multiple districts that fall well short of the minimum population requirement, and the closed districts’ population would be used to bring the neighboring districts into compliance with the population requirement: The 11th District, a saw-tooth-shaped district in the Talleyville area that touches four districts that fall an average of 3,000 short of the ideal population size, would be closed; The 20th District, a Hockessin-area district that touches four districts that are an average of 2,800 short of the ideal population size, also would be closed; Two new districts would be created below the C&D Canal, where the bulk of the population increase took place: The new 11th District would encompass the southwestern quadrant of southern New Castle County south of Middletown and west of U.S. 13 and the northwestern quadrant of Kent County. It would include the municipalities of Townsend, Kenton and Hartly; The new 20th District would incorporate the municipalities of Lewes and Milton, running south near Long Neck, encompassing the Harbeson area and reaching west near the city limits of Georgetown; The 37th District would include all of Georgetown and see its Hispanic population increase from 17.22 percent to 19.39 percent.
The House Democratic caucus will hold a public hearing on its redistricting proposal on Thursday, May 26, at 7 p.m. in the House Chamber at Legislative Hall in Dover.
PDFs of each of the 41 proposed districts are available online at the state’s General Assembly website, http://legis.delaware.gov, under the “Redistricting Information” link in the middle of the main page.
The majority's plan has already drawn sharp criticism from House Republicans.
“It’s a lot of material to digest in a very short period of time, but even on first blush it’s hard not to see this for the blatantly Gerrymandered plan it is,” said Minority Leader Rep. Greg Lavelle (R-Sharpley).
The Democrats' plan would force Lavelle, who currently holds the 11th District, to run against fellow Republican Rep. Deborah Hudson in the 12th District.
It would also pit Republican incumbent reps. Joe Miro and Nicko Manolakos against each other in a possibly primary, since Manaolakos' 20th District is slated to close and pop up down south.
Republicans also chided the Democrats for drawing two of thier own incumbents into the same district.
Thier map calls for Rep. Brad Bennett's 32nd District to shift south slightly, putting his current residence in the 31st District with Rep. Darryl Scott.
Bennett said he's lived in his current home in Dover's Eden Hill Farms subdivision since he and his wife divorced last year, but has been attempting to sell it for several months.
In the coming weeks, he plans to purchase a new home on South State Street, within the bounds of the proposed district, and take up residence there.
For a candidate to seek office, he or she must live in thier district for at least one year prior to the election.