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Politics & Government

Slaughter Beach residents unhappy with proposed district lines

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Delaware Sea Grant
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Issues arose during a public hearing on proposed state Senate district maps Tuesday evening.

Redrawing district lines is bound to upset one community or the other. Often lawmakers in charge of drawing the maps aim to change as little as possible, to avoid upsetting citizens who are happy with their current representative.

Almost half of the speakers at the virtual hearing came to bring up Slaughter Beach, which has moved from the 18th to the 16th district.

The Mayor of Slaughter Beach, Kathy Lock, says her town will feel the full effects of sea level rise in the First State, and the town has been recently looking at securing funds for infrastructure projects to combat those effects.

“I anticipate that our effectiveness in securing these funds from other municipalities and from Sussex County will require the assistance and a strong voice from our state representatives,” Lock says.

Other speakers noted their new district is almost entirely in Kent County, and the relationships their new senator, Colin Bonini, has with the Sussex County government may not be as strong, hurting the town’s chances to get the support it needs.

Slaughter Beach may theoretically be able to go back to its original district because of how the populations are distributed, and lawmakers say they’ll consider that possibility.

Former State Sen. Anthony Delcollo is serving as an attorney for the senate Republicans.

He says the huge population boom in Sussex County should also be taken into more consideration.

“With the current variation that exists, we’ll see within a handful of years — certainly I predict by the next election in 2024; we’ll see maps that, if redistricting were happening in that year, would likely not pass constitutional muster under the federal mandate,” Delcollo says.

Delcollo is highlighting the districts in and around Delaware’s beaches, which have grown the most of any in the First State.

All of those districts sit near the five percent deviation from the average permitted by state law, and if population trends continue, those districts will exceed those numbers quickly — leaving senators in those districts representing too many people.

Roman Battaglia is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

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