Mon County Delegates generally pleased with redistricting so far

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Joint Committee on Redistricting has released several options for new state maps for Congressional, state delegate and state senate districts.

The committee has held in-person meetings all over the state and also offered some online opportunities for the public to participate.

The committee will draw new 100 single member House of Delegate districts, a change from 67 single and multi-member districts, new state senate maps and redraw Congressional districts from three to two- a reduction due to declining state population.

The committee has released several proposed maps for public comment and discussions are expected to continue during legislative interim meetings scheduled for October 10, 11 and 12.

Two Monongalia County Delegates, Joe Statler (R) and John Williams (D), said they generally approve of the process so far on WAJR’s Talk of the Town.

Monongalia Delegate Joe Statler, an appointed member of the committee, said most people at the meetings wanted the process to be transparent, as nonpolitical as possible and they did not want counties or municipalities to lose their identity because they are carved up to meet political district criteria.

“People wanted to remain as much as they could within their own counties which is not a possibility with West Virginia and the way the make up is,” Statler said,” Because it’s driven by numbers and that was a common thread.”

Williams said he has heard the same request from constituents. Williams has reviewed the proposed maps and believes lawmakers met the request, for the most part.

“We have one district that goes into a very small part of Wetzel County to the west, and that’s not bad,” Williams said,” I’m happy we’re going to have six delegates within the confines of Mon County.”

Law states districts should be compact and continuous where possible, however due to the population density in West Virginia some lines could drawn that don’t entirely meet those conditions.

“I think there are a couple of examples where a couple of municipalities were split,” Williams said,” It’s my understanding there is some work being done with folks to maybe fix those problems areas before this draft map turns into the potential redistricting bill.”

The many versions of the proposed maps are available online and open for public comment.

“Everybody in the world can look and see what the proposals are and they can still send in comments and suggestions,” Statler said,” Because, the final version coming out of the committee has not been determined yet.”

One consistent comment from constituents is to keep politics, and Statler believes the joint committee has done that.

“They wanted the voters to choose the elected official, not the elected official choosing the voters and I do not believe we did that,” Statler said,” In fact, the way the proposed map is divided up- we didn’t choose the voters.”

Lawmakers have not set a date for a special, but more proposed maps are expected early next week.