House Democrats have announced a redistricting plan for Delaware that shifts two legislative districts in New Castle County to new districts downstate.
The plan released Thursday by the House majority party reflects the latest Census data showing a shift southward in Delaware’s population. It adds two new districts in Kent and Sussex counties where the population grew by 25.9 percent and 28.1 percent, respectively, in the last decade. The proposal calls for closing two districts in New Castle County, where the population grew at 7.6 percent.
House Majority Leader Pete Schwartzkopf (D-Rehoboth) says it was a difficult process, and he knows some people will be upset with the new districts.
“I take it very seriously … trying to keep people in the same district that they originally were in,” he said, “make sure that they go back to the same fire hall or the same school that they voted in the last 10 years. I couldn’t do it for everybody, but I did it for as many as I possibly could.”
According to the proposal, the 11th District in the Talleyville area and the 20th District in Hockessin would be closed. Both districts are currently represented by Republicans.
The new 11th District would encompass the southwestern quadrant of southern New Castle County south of Middletown and west of U.S. 13 and the northwestern quadrant of Kent County. It would include the municipalities of Townsend, Kenton and Hartly.
The new 20th District would incorporate the municipalities of Lewes and Milton, running south near Long Neck, encompassing the Harbeson area and reaching west near the city limits of Georgetown.
Under the Democrat’s plan, existing districts where more than half the population is a minority would remain and would retain their majority-minority status.
House Republicans released their own redistricting plan Tuesday. Their plan would move the 11th House District in the Talleyville area to eastern Sussex County, between Lewes and Georgetown.
The 3rd House District in Wilmington, currently held by a Democrat, would be moved to a rural area of western Kent County running from Cheswold to Felton.
Schwartzkopf says the two plans are very similar, that they both send two New Castle districts south to Kent and Sussex counties.
“The only thing we differ with the Republican version is that we maintain the four majority-minority districts and they did not,” he said. “They only maintained two of them.”
House Democrats will hold a public hearing on its redistricting proposal on Thursday, May 26, at 7 p.m. in the House Chamber at Legislative Hall in Dover. PDFs of each of the 41 proposed districts are available online at the state’s General Assembly website, http://legis.delaware.gov, under the “Redistricting Information” link in the middle of the main page.