PARKERSBURG - Public meetings are being conducted around the state to seek public input on redistricting efforts at the state level.
In light of population shifts documented in the 2010 census, the state is looking at ways to redraw Congressional, State Senate and House of Delegates lines to comply with the changes.
"The senate has been holding meetings around the state to see what the people have to say, make them aware there is going to be redistricting. We had about 75 people at the meeting in Logan Wednesday night," said Sen. Donna Boley, R-Pleasants. Boley said Wood County's population and the populations in the areas covered by the delegate districts locally has not changed significantly. Boley's Third State Senate seat covers Pleasants, Wood, Wirt and part of Roane counties. Vienna Mayor Dave Nohe, who also attended Thursday's commission meeting is the other senator from the Third District. House of Delegates members Dan Poling, D-Wood, and John Ellem, R-Wood, have been named to serve on the redistricting committee for the House. They were both present for the county commission meeting.
As a result of the 2010 census population shifts, some Senate and House of Delegates lines will need to be redrawn.
"Southern West Virginia has lost population big time, while Morgantown and the Eastern Panhandle, they have gained population. You will see the state lose one senator down here, and one in Kanawha County," Boley said, indicating a map of the state.
"Kanawha has two districts that overlap, Senate Districts 8 and 17. They have four senators, and they can come from anyplace in Kanawha County. Kanawha County has lost a lot of population, so they are going to have to have just one district with two senators and then another district with one senator, take in one of the other counties, either Roane, Boone or Fayette, or somebody and let the other senator come from there. So Kanawha would no longer have four senators," Boley said.
"The senate is doing the senate and congressional; the House of Delegates has their own committee to do the House. There is a big effort to go to single-member districts. I've gone to six of the eight meetings so far, and every area but Marion and Monongahelia are in favor of single districts. Marion and Monongahelia would like to keep their multiple districts," Boley said.
"On the Congressional side, it calls for it to be contiguous and compact. There is an effort from the Eastern Panhandle to make this more compact. That would mean you would probably see Wood in with Kanawha County, and it's my impression people here don't want that to happen," she said.
Boley said she'd like to see it remain as it is, with one change.
The First District has a population of 615,991. The total state population is 1.8 million, according to the most recent census. The second district is over by about 30,000, the third is under.
"The only thing you have to do is take Mason and move it down to be in compliance. Some people aren't too happy about that. But I don't think Wood County wants to be with Kanawha," Boley said.
There are 17 State Senatorial districts.
"The average population is 109,000. We have 109,227 right now, so we don't need to do one thing to that district," Boley said. "You are allowed to have 5 percent under or 5 percent over. We're the closest district there is," she said.
"I'm sure with you as a part of this, I think we can rest assured Wood County will be well-represented," commission President Blair Couch said.
Delegate Dan Poling, D-Wood, along with John Ellem, R-Wood, are members of the House Redistricting Committee.
"We didn't start as early as the senate, but the committee is in place now. There are 30 delegates serving on the committee. There are 100 delegates total. Our first committee meeting is next week. We plan to do some public meetings, and there will be one in this area. Wood County's population hasn't changed that much. The issue of single-delegate districts has been raised. We have two single-delegate districts and one three-member, for the most part people seem to feel that works pretty well," Poling said. He noted the populations in the three-delegate districts are well within the required 5 percent as well.
"There is a constitutional problem with single-delegate districts which you may have heard about. You can't have a single district that crosses a county line. It has to have two delegates. That will have to be addressed," Poling said.
"We are planning to be called into special session by the governor in August, and we would like to get something finalized by then on this redistricting," Boley said.
The Senate Redistricting Committee is sponsoring a public hearing locally on June 15 from 7-8:30 p.m. in the city council chambers at the Parkersburg Municipal Building.
The Third Senatorial District covers Pleasants, Wood, Wirt and part of Roane counties. Wood County is covered by three delegate districts. The Eighth District, which covers part of Wood County, is represented by Bill Anderson, Republican. That district includes the Williamstown, Waverly, Boaz areas; the Ninth District covers part of Wood, out the West Virginia 47 area, and all of Wirt County and was represented by Larry Border, Republican, who passed away Wednesday. The Tenth District covers part of Wood County and has three representatives: Tom Azinger and John Ellem, who are both Republicans, and Dan Poling, a Democrat. That district covers the remainder of Wood County not covered by the other two delegate districts.