State Senator Adam Ebbin came to the Alexandria campus to talk to Professor David Miller’s Cultural Geography (Geo 210) class on Thursday, March 19. Senator Ebbin represents the 30th district (parts of Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax) as a Democratic member of the Virginia Senate. His district borders the Potomac River from National Airport to Mount Vernon and includes part of NOVA’s Alexandria campus. He spoke to students about gerrymandering, the Virginia Senate, and his bills in the recent legislative session.
Ebbin explained that gerrymandering is the drawing of electoral district boundaries in awkward shapes to make the districts safe for the party in power. In 2011, when the districts were drawn, Republicans controlled the governor’s mansion, Virginia House of Delegates, and the Virginia Senate. Therefore, the process of drawing new districts, or redistricting, tended to favor Republicans.
Virginia is a purple state with roughly equal populations of Republicans and Democrats, but the power of gerrymandering gives an edge to Senate Republicans, who hold 21 seats versus 19 seats for Democrats. Democratic voters are packed into Senator Ebbin’s elongated district, making districts to the south and west safe for Republicans. Each state senator represents about 200,000 people, and all 40 senators will be up for election in November 2015.
Senator Ebbin also discussed a number of his bills, including ones for cleaner energy, mass transit funding, and protections against discrimination in state employment. He highlighted his sponsorship of Senate Joint Resolution 337 commending Dr. Robert Templin for his 13 years of service as President of Northern Virginia Community College.
After his presentation, Senator Ebbin met with Dr. Jimmie McClellan, Dean of Liberal Arts, and Marcus Henderson, Community Outreach Specialist.