The state of Delaware is divided into 41 House of Representative seats that entitle each citizen of Delaware to be represented equally in their area of residency. The Representative District lines have been drawn as they now stand for the past ten years, in some areas many more, and individuals have become accustomed to who represents their interests in the Delaware legislature. Coming soon however, those lines may change drastically across the state and will certainly change in Kent and Sussex Counties.
The recently released U.S. Census data for Delaware revealed a changing, growing state. Between 2000 and 2010, Delaware’s population grew 14.6 percent with 897,934 people now calling The First State “home.” Following the decennial Census, every legislative district in the country is re-examined to ensure that citizens have equal representation in their local, state and federal governments.
In the case of the Delaware House of Representatives, every representative district must now contain 21,900 residents, plus or minus five percent (20,805 to 22,995 people), to reflect the new reality. To meet that mandate, the size and shape of most of the state’s representative districts will be changing, with some residents finding themselves in different districts. Of the 41 Delaware Representative Districts, only nine currently fall within the new range. More than half the districts, 21 of 41, are undersized. The remaining 11 districts contain too many people.
Northern New Castle County has seen little growth over the last 10 years. In fact, the City of Wilmington actually lost about 2.5 percent of its population. Of the 24 Representative Districts located primarily above the C & D Canal, 19 are currently undersized. Only two districts south of the canal are undersized: the 32nd Representative District (Dover) and the 39th District (Seaford).
Ten of the 11 oversized districts are below the canal, some of which are “super-sized.” The 8th Representative District, which includes the fast-growing Middletown area, currently has 34,905 residents – nearly 12,000 people above the new limit.
It’s a certainty that Kent and Sussex counties, which grew by 28.1 percent and 25.9 percent respectively, will gain House seats at New Castle County’s expense. How many seats and how the districts will be re-drawn to accommodate the population shift, remain to be seen.
The boundaries of Delaware’s General Assembly districts will be drawn by the party in control of each chamber. Democrats currently have commanding majorities in both the House and the Senate and will ultimately make those decisions. Under state law, the new districts must be approved by the end of the regular legislative session on June 30th.
In thirty days residents in Milford, which are represented in the 33rd and 36th Districts, will find out where the new lines are drawn and who will be their legislators in the upcoming election cycles.