Much of the frenzied discussion in the wake of the surprise push through by State Senate Republicans of a major redistricting bill on Monday has centered on the new Senate district map, which Democrats say was quietly engineered to hand more victories to Republicans and tilt the body’s now-even power balance to the right.
But the Senate shakeup isn’t the only change the new legislation would usher in if it becomes law. Buried in the bill are some shifts to House districts, too—including one in Charlottesville’s backyard that moves Republican Board of Supervisors member and one-time Congressional candidate Ken Boyd from a safely blue district to a safely red one.
The move affects nine census blocks, part of a neighborhood off Stoney Point Road called Key West, which includes Boyd’s Explorer Road home. The area was part of the 57th House district, held by Democrat David Toscano. The bill would shift it to the 58th, represented by Republican Rob Bell, who’s hoping to vacate his seat early in the wake of a victory in his bid for Attorney General.
When we called Boyd for comment, he acknowledged he’d helped engineer the shift, but said it was about making things a little easier for residents on voting day.
“We’ve got a split precinct in Free Bridge,” he said, which meant designated voting booths for different precincts within the same voting location. “I had met the members of the Electoral Board and the homeowners’ association in Key West a couple of times to get their reactions to what would happen if they changed their legislative district, and they were very much in favor of unsplitting the neighborhood.”
But Boyd said he wasn’t aware the change would come so soon.
“We brought it up in our meeting with the legislature, and they said they were not going to do anything about the redistricting of the Senate,” he said.
As for the possibility of running for state office if he’s free from ties to liberal Charlottesville, the five-time Republican candidate said he wasn’t sure.
“I don’t know about that,” he said. “As long as (Bell) has that seat, I won’t run.”
And if he no longer has it?
“That would be something I’d need to talk over with my wife before I made any kind of announcement,” he said.