Manassas Park City Council members expressed intense frustration this week over the Virginia Senate’s move to realign several of the state's districts—a move that severs the small locale from neighboring Manassas and most of Prince William County.
The Senate bill, which squeezed through with a 20-19 vote Monday, takes Manassas Park out of the 29th Senate District represented by longtime Senator Charles J. Colgan and puts it in the 13th District.
The move takes Manassas Park away from Manassas and the bulk of Prince William County and places it with Loudoun County—an area the city has nothing in common with, Manassas Park Mayor Frank Jones said at Tuesday’s city council meeting.
“Essentially, Manassas Park is a stand alone,” Jones said. “We have much more in common with the people of Manassas and Prince William County.”
“It was a naked power play and nothing more,” Manassas Park City Councilwoman Jeannette Rishell said Tuesday.
The mayor said he strongly objects to the bill because it’s of no interest to the city.
“This to me is absolutely absurd,” Jones said.
City council members said they were essentially blindsided by the vote and received no notice that it was even an issue.
"We didn't get so much as a courtesy call from anybody," Jones said.
There was clearly no consideration for the citizens of Manassas Park, he said.
“This is gerrymandering at its best,” said Bryan Polk, Manassas Park’s vice mayor.
Polk said he believes the move is part of “someone’s agenda,” but isn’t sure whose.
The redistricting makes absolutely no sense, he added.
The council voted to instruct city manager James “Jim” Zumwalt to send a strongly-worded letter about the redistricting to the Virginia governor and a copy to the U.S. Department of Justice—adding that they wanted the letters, “out the door” by Wednesday.
“It smacks of something inappropriate,” Jones said of the Senate bill.
The bill shifts the districts of five Senate Democrats—three representing Northern Virginia—toward more Republican-voting areas. Under the proposal, the districts of John Edwards (D-21st) Dave Marsden (D-37th), George Barker (D-39th), Chuck Colgan (D-29th) and John Miller (D-1st) would all change.
For more on the redistricting, check out this read:
GOP Redistricting Targets Colgan's Va. Senate Seat