Sleight of Hand in PWC Redistricting; Wheeler Dictates New Map

Thanks to Supervisor Yesli Vega for this important update on redistricting within Prince William County.

On December 21st, along partisan lines, the Board majority approved new magisterial districts for the county which will serve for the 2023, 2027, and likely 2031 Supervisor and School Board elections. The new boundaries will not take affect until the 2023 election. For months, the nonpartisan map consultants the county hired to run the redistricting process, ARCBridge Consulting, did a phenomenal job using the guidelines the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved back in May, which you can find here.

Per the County, the Board was scheduled to receive the final maps on either November 19th, or at the latest, November 22nd. Thanksgiving came and went and still no maps. This led many of us to believe that things were going on behind closed doors and the fix was in. It turns out this was true.

On November 30th, Chair Ann Wheeler dictated to the Board via e-mail a new map with substantial changes to what the nonpartisan map consultants had proposed to us on November 9th. What was abnormal about this was until that point, the nonpartisan consultants had the complete run of the show and regularly kept us updated on changes to the maps – as you would expect from a firm we explicitly hired to do so. The Chair was merely a recipient to those updates like everyone else.

Not only did the consultant not send us the final maps in a process they were hired and paid to run, but they incredibly weren’t even included on the Chair’s e-mail containing the new maps.

What resulted in this final map dictated to the Board by the Chair was a substantial land swap between the Coles and Occoquan and Occoquan and Neabsco Districts to the political benefit of the Occoquan District Supervisor who was narrowly elected in his 2019 election.

2021 PWC Redistricting Map

While portions of the Penn and Coles voting precincts were already drawn into Occoquan by the map consultant, the unilateral and politically motivated decision to draw nearly two-thirds of the Marshall precinct and the remainder of the Penn precinct into Occoquan was made by the Board Chair without any consultation of Supervisor Vega or the residents of the Coles District.

This sort of partisan gerrymandering was rightly rejected by over 60% of Prince William County voters when placed on the ballot just a little more than a year ago in November of 2020. This included a majority in each and every magisterial district.

Unfortunately, the Democrat Board majority usurped the wishes of the majority of county residents and the hard work done by the taxpayer funded map consultant in a blatant attempt to create the best possible scenario for themselves in future elections.