WINCHESTER — Residents of Winchester, Frederick County and Clarke County will see several significant changes in how they are represented in Congress and the Virginia General Assembly as a result of new redistricting maps unanimously approved by the state Supreme Court last week.

Boundary lines were redrawn for Virginia's congressional and legislative districts as part of a redistricting process that accounts for population shifts every 10 years. Two court-appointed “special masters,” one selected by the Democratic Party and one selected by the Republican Party, created the maps.

The Winchester area will now be part of the new 6th Congressional District (it's currently in the 10th Congressional District). In the General Assembly, the region will be part of the state Senate's new 1st District (it's currently in the 27th District), while parts of the region will be represented by the House of Delegates' new 31st and 32nd districts (the region is currently in the 10th, 29th and 33rd districts).

The new districts are set to take effect in the next general election for the respective offices — 2022 for the U.S. Congress, 2023 for the state Senate and 2023 for the Virginia House of Delegates. However, a pending lawsuit wants the new districts to be in full effect this fall. 

While the redistricting process was meant to reduce gerrymandering and not prioritize protecting incumbents, area elected officials have mixed feelings on the outcome.

U.S. Congress

For decades, the city of Winchester and Frederick and Clarke counties have been a part of the 10th Congressional District, which extends from the West Virginia border east to Fairfax County and currently represented by Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D). Once redistricting takes effect, the 10th District will no longer include the Winchester region. Instead, the 10th District will encompass Loudoun, Rappahannock and Fauquier counties and parts of Fairfax and Prince William counties.

“I’ve enjoyed every minute of the opportunity to represent Clarke, Frederick, and Winchester,” Wexton said in a statement to The Star. “The Northern Shenandoah Valley is a vibrant and growing community, which proudly welcomes all Virginians and is home to some of the most caring people I know.”

“While I’m saddened that the region will be moved out of Virginia’s 10th district in 2023, I look forward to continuing to serve all of those currently in my district through the end of this term," she continued. "I’m also excited to welcome new constituents into the 10th next year and work on their behalf just as I’ve done throughout my time in public service.”

Wexton has represented the 10th District since 2019.

The Northern Shenandoah Valley will now be part of the newly redrawn 6th Congressional District, which runs along the I-81 corridor to Roanoke.

Republican Ben Cline, of Botetourt County, currently represents the 6th District. He is running for re-election this November against Democrat Jennifer Lewis of Waynesboro.

“Over the past three years, I have been honored to represent the Shenandoah Valley in Congress, and I am pleased that the counties of Frederick and Clarke, in addition to the City of Winchester, will become part of the new Sixth District,” Cline said in a statement. “I look forward to spending time and working with all of my future constituents in those areas next year.”

Frederick County Republican Committee Chairman Allen Sibert said he appreciates the area becoming part of the 6th Congressional District, saying it has conservative values that don’t align with the Northern Virginia region to the east.

Interim Winchester-Frederick County Democratic Committee Chairwoman Mary Strenko said the new congressional lines “make sense” as they keep the Northern Shenandoah Valley together. While she acknowledged area Democrats would lose Wexton as a representative, she also said she’s optimistic that local Democrats will “get stronger” and more motivated in their outreach after the new districts go into effect.

State Senate

Frederick, Clarke and Winchester residents are currently in the state Senate's  27th District represented by Sen. Jill Vogel, R-Upperville, since 2008. The 27th District encompasses Winchester and Clarke, Frederick and Fauquier counties, as well as parts of Loudoun, Culpeper and Stafford counties.

As a result of the redistricting, Frederick, Clarke, Shenandoah and Warren counties and the city of Winchester will become part of the new 1st District. 

“It is really disappointing for me to be cut out of the heart of this district,” Vogel said. “I am so connected to the valley in every way. I was born there. I grew up there, and I have represented the valley since I have been in the Senate.”

The new 27th District will include the city of Fredericksburg and parts of Spotsylvania and Stafford counties. Northern Fauquier County, where Vogel resides, will become part of the Senate's new 31st District, while the rest of Fauquier will become part of the 28th District. Vogel did not respond to a question on whether she intends to seek reelection in 2023.

Warren and Shenandoah counties, previously in the 26th District, which Republican Sen. Mark Obenshain currently represents, will now become part of a newly formed 2nd District that also includes Rockingham, Page, Highland and Bath counties and parts of Augusta County. Obenshain lives in Rockingham County. 

In addition to Obenshain, the new 2nd District also overlaps with two other incumbents — 25th District Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath County, and 24th District. Sen. Emmett Hanger, R-Augusta County.

House of Delegates

The 10th District in the House of Delegates, currently represented by Del. Wendy Gooditis, D-Clarke County, will see some major changes. At present, the district encompasses parts of Loudoun, Frederick, and Clarke counties. The redistricting creates a new 31st District that includes Clarke County, southeastern Frederick County and the top half of Warren County, including Front Royal.

“I approve of the lines, at least in this part of Virginia,” Gooditis said. “Because they get rid of a lot of the gerrymandering that was done by Republicans 10 years ago. So I’m really happy about that. It keeps the rural areas together, and it respects the natural boundaries, which you are supposed to do when you draw districts. In this case, that being the Blue Ridge and the Shenandoah River. So I’m very pleased about the district as it’s drawn now.”

While Gooditis feels the redrawn lines make sense for northwestern Virginia, she acknowledged that without Loudoun County — where she saw much of her support in the most recent election — she could face challenges in future elections. She has not decided if she will run for reelection after her term expires on  Dec. 31, 2023.

“The districts now are much more conservative and have much more Republican voters,” Gooditis said of the House of Delegates' new 31st District. “I freely acknowledge that. As to how it will affect me, no final decisions yet.”

Frederick and Clarke residents will also no longer be in the 33rd District currently represented by Republican Del. Dave LaRock of Hamilton. The 33rd District presently encompasses parts of Frederick, Clarke and Loudoun counties. After the redistricting takes effect, LaRock’s district will become the new 30th District, encompassing western Loudoun County and northern Fauquier County.

LaRock said he has no disagreement with the general criteria for the new lines and said the district “needed to be shrunk.” In addition, he said he also believes the values of northern Fauquier County are compatible with western Loudoun.

“I will not continue to serve Frederick County and I’m certainly disappointed to have that happen,” LaRock said. “Not to say I’m dissatisfied with the district, but disappointed. The people, the representatives in government from Frederick County, are great to work with, so it’s just sad to see that come to an end. Same with Clarke county. I’ve formed good relationships with the people and they were very supportive. So I’m sad to see that end as well.”

The new lines overlap LaRock with fellow Republican incumbent Michael Webert, who currently represents northern Fauquier County in the House of Delegates. LaRock is not certain whether he or Webert will run for the new 30th District.

“We’ll have to work something out there,” LaRock said.

The 29th District, currently represented by Del. Bill Wiley, R-Winchester, will become part of the new 31st District and cover all of Front Royal and parts of Clarke and Frederick counties, stopping south of Winchester. The new 32nd District will represent Winchester and northern Frederick County. Wiley intends to represent the 32nd District.

Wiley said he’s sad to lose his constituents from Warren County, noting he “established a lot of good relationships with people there.” However, he also said he’s looking forward to working with new constituents.

— Contact Josh Janney at jjanney@winchesterstar.com

(15) comments

Mr Incredible

The redistricting makes sense. Thank God we got rid of the liberal nut bags in Loudoun. It's gonna suck losing LaRock, but the silver lining is that Gooditis is toast in the next election. She lost both Frederick and Clarke, and barely hung on in Loudoun.

Mr Incredible

The redistricting lines makes sense. Thank God we got rid of the liberal nut bags in Loudoun. It's gonna suck losing LaRock, but the silver lining is that Gooditis is toast in the next election. She lost both Frederick and Clarke, and barely hung on in Loudoun.

RightSide

Nuri, you should run for the new 31st District that includes Clarke County, southeastern Frederick County and the top half of Warren County, including Front Royal. You can increase your 18 point loss margin that way.

TheOneAndOnlyNuri

Why don't you run? Oh, right... you can only run your mouth...

RightSide

18!

RightSide

How can I run since, according to you, I don't live here? Make up your mind.

TheOneAndOnlyNuri

Because you don't live here, you're not eligible.

Get with it, dude.

RightSide

Sounds good to me. If I can get true representation and get rid of the Progressive Nuts of Gooditits and Wexton, then I like it. Of course, according to Nuri, I don't live here. Nevermind, that I am a native and he is an outsider that does not belong here.

Doc Samson

"Of course, according to Nuri, I don't live here..."

He's just trying to get anyone who doesn't pass his purity test to out themselves for stalking purposes... or something... [ninja] [lol] Remember, you are a coward if you post anonymously in disagreement with him. Post anonymously in agreement with him? Why you are quite the upstanding and courageous resident! No proof required! [lol]

Comment deleted.
RightSide

You should not be living here. You don't fit or belong.

dmjc

The changes appear to make a lot of sense. Thaks for the coverage. I do wish the accompanying maps were a bit more legible and had a legend. Perhaps they are better in the print edition.

Old Western Man

Some excellent districting changes at least in our region. Good riddance to the DC/NoVA cesspool and the hyper-radical gas bags, Wexton and Gooditis. Now we should be able to get some representation that actually reflects the values and interests of the lower Valley. Vogel's solid service will be missed, but an opportunity now exists for another of our own.

RightSide

Well said!

Mr Incredible

[thumbup]

Robina5

Heavens! These are massive changes. Very confusing. How is this going to impact our current representatives who know they will be losing their constituents, and if they do run, will have to totally re-build their base? Very confusing.

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