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The rights and freedoms of American citizens are codified in the American constitution. Citizens, for example, have the ability to vote in elections and elect leaders of their choice to fill specific posts. People can express their desire for good leadership through a free and fair democratic process. Citizens must be informed as voters in order to participate in the democratic process prescribed by the constitution. The electorates should hold elected leaders accountable for their performance and representation. Leaders ought to represent the interests of the electorates whom they made promises to during the campaigns. It is important that the citizens understand the bills and laws being passed by the legislative arm of the government. Candidates of the different political affiliation represent their party in all activities which sometimes may be in jeopardy with the interest of the people. A balance between representation and partisanship ought to prevail among the leaders if they are to be relevant with the electorates and their parties (Alvarez, Michael & Brehm., 2002).
The state of Virginia is subdivided into eleven (11) congressional districts each being represented by a member of the House of Representatives, Congressman. The districts in Virginia are unchanged in number after the 2010 Census. In 2012, the Virginian legislature prepared a move to redistrict the different congressional districts. Later on before 2016 election, the redistricting was replaced by a court order kind of redistricting after the initial one was found to be unconstitutional. The third district was accused to have violated the voting rights as provided by the Act. The move was in a bid to favor the Republican candidate. The Supreme Court later determined that the districts were not founded on racial basis and elections ought to be held in a free and fair manner.
The Virginia is engulfed with gerrymandering due to its bipartisan nature. There is a rift in both state and congressional level. This has been attributed mainly to the contiguity found in the districts and the absence on compactness. The districts of the state are poorly ranked as their cities and counties are more disintegrated. This creates more divisions within a single district as individuals do not have a common bearing. The congressional districts in Virginia are below the competitive mark but on national scale, they fall on an average margin.
A bipartisan approach is being adopted in the state’s reform agenda. The membership includes the Chamber of Commerce, League of women Voters, OneVirginia2021, Virginia Organizing Project and the AARP of Virginia. The above groups provided advisory roles on the Redistricting and make recommendations to both the district congress and the legislature. Some of the recommendations made include reduction of the split jurisdictions, defining three districts and increasing consolidation of each district. An African-American district was maintained to safeguard their interests and not dilute their influence.
Two senators, Senator Louise Lucas of Portsmouth and Senator Jill Holtzman Vogel of Winchester sponsored a bill in senate to add more criteria in the Virginia Redistricting Commission to comprise of four political parties members and three public officials who were independent. The existing boundaries were respected and new districts were to be established on the basis of population in accordance with the state and federal laws. Compaction in cities and towns was advocated for and racial fairness was to be considered too.
The seats apportionment in the House of Representatives is determined after a census in the different states. Virginia district have increased from 10 in 1980 to 11 currently. The current districts’ representation comprise of both men and women from the two parties. There are 7 republicans and 4 democrats. The 2018 elections for the House of Representative members will take place on November 6, 2018. 11 candidates will be elected from the 11 districts. The primary election whereby a candidate is elected to represent a political party in the general election was done on June 12th 2018. Party leaders and delegates are also chosen. Virginia adopted a hybrid primary system where registered voters can vote in party primaries even if they do not belong to that party (The Washington Post, 2017).
Four congressional districts in Virginia intersect with pivot counties. The pivot counties are much not aligned to any political affiliation. For instance, they vote for Barack Obama in his both terms and in 2016 they voted for Donald Trump (Portnoy, 2016). The election for the senate and congressional seat varies in terms of years. The senators are elected for a term of six years while the representatives are elected for two terms. Voting in Virginia is clearer due to the incremental way of policy making. For instance, the voting policy by use of photo ID is isolated. The state had a strict non photo ID policy in 2013 but in 2014 it adopted a more strict approach which limited the forms of ID that were acceptable. The state has unique kind of election cycle which is competitive and covering the wider sate.
Virginia’s Tenth Congressional District
The 10th Congressional District of Virginia is found in the northern part of Virginia with a verse suburban area at East and expansive West used as farmland. The counties that make up the District include Frederick, Loudon and Clarke with portions of Prince William and Fairfax form part of the district. The 10th district is home for many skilled professionals, federal employees and even the entrepreneurs. The locals in the farmland undertake farming. The western part grows peach orchards, apples and craft berries some useful for the wine industry. The large farm provides fresh farm produce and milk for the processing industries. The city of Winchester for instance has large manufacturing industries which benefits from the products obtained from the western part of the district. Tourism is also common to the area with the Appalachian Trail offering good place to hike and Shenandoah River is good for fishing. The Manassa Park is also a tourist attraction site. The 10th Congressional District is currently represented by Barbara Comstock from the Republican Party. In 2006 the incumbent battle it out with LuAnn Bennett at heated political race (Blais D., 2014).
Congresslady Barbara Comstock
Barbara Comstock is the current congressional representative of the 10th district. Before joining the district congress she was a delegate member from 2001 to 2014 was elected to seat in Virginia House of Delegates, after she defeated Margaret Vanderhye, a democrat in 2009. She was involved in the enactment of legislation which increase penalty for teen sex trafficking. She sponsored laws that enhanced the objective of public policy among the Workforce Fairness Institute (WFI). She was reelected in 2011 to the same House of Delegates and in 2014 she won the seat to the US congress on a republican ticket. She was also reelected in 2016 for the same Congress position. Her ambitions have motivated her to try running for the senate in 2018 election (Blais D., 2014).
Senate: Senator Tim Kaine
The Virginia’s Senate comprise of 40 members representing about 200,000 people. The senators serve for a four year term. The next senate election in Virginia will be held in November 2019. Tim Kaine is the current senate representing Virginia in the Senate. He was elected in 2012 by a democratic ticket into the senate. The party had nominated him for the position of Vice President of United States incase it had won the 2016 election. He is a lawyer by profession and practice law before lecturing at a school of law (Burton D., 2008). In 1998 he was first elected in an elective position as a mayor for Richmond. Later on in 2001, he became a lieutenant governor for Virginia. He was elected as governor in 2005 where he served until 2010. During his governorship he held the position of chairman of Democratic National Committee During the 2016 presidential election, democrat candidate Hillary Clinton picked him as the preferred vice president (Kaine Interview, 2016).
In Conclusion informed voters are crucial in the creation of governance and creation of a system of checks and balance among the leaders. The electorates have power in their votes and can decide on whom to lead them. Education on governance is crucial in understanding more about the ruling class, their duties and the individual’s rights as voters. The constitution places sovereignty on the people and thus they should enjoy their rights and privilege in accordance with the statutory and federal laws. The state of Virginia is one of developing state of the US. The electorates are optimistic on their leaders to make a difference in their life and propel development in the various districts. The senator and the congressmen should work hand in hand to formulate policies which are pro-development and promote equity among every citizen.
Alvarez, Michael and John Brehm. 2002. Hard Choices, Easy Answers: Values, Information, and American Public Opinion. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.
Blais D., (2014), “What You Need to Know: Virginia’s 10th Congressional District Race. WUSA CBS
Burton D., (2008). 10 things you didn’t know about Tim Kaine. US News & World Report.
Kaine, Time (2016). “ Life and Career of Senator Tim Kaine” American Profiles Series (Interview). Interview with Steve Scully. C-SPAN
Portnoy, J (2016). Republican Rep. Babara Comstock of Virginia urges Trump to drop out of race. Washington Post, Washington.
Richard E. Cohen and James A. Barnes, The Almanac of American Politics
Ruhe, Shirley (2016). “ Responding to Teen Sex Trafficking” Alexandria Gazette
The Washington Post, "Field of Democrats competing to challenge Comstock grows by two," June 26, 2017
The Washington Post, "Fifth Democrat jumps into race to challenge Rep. Barbara Comstock," May 12, 2017
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