PARKERSBURG - U.S. Representatives Shelley Moore Capito and David McKinley are hopeful for a fair and simple redistricting process when state legislators redraw the congressional district lines.
The West Virginia Legislature, as a result of the 2010 census, will redraw the boundaries of the Senate and House of Delegate districts. Of particular interest is Berkeley County, which gained population, while Kanawha County lost population.
Currently, West Virginia has three congressional districts which each district representing about 600,000 citizens, the Secretary of State's office reported. In 2001, the Legislature adopted the redistricting plan that moved Gilmer County from the Second to the First District, and Nicholas County from the Second to the Third District after shifts in the population.
McKinley, R-W.Va., represents the 1st District, Capito, R-W.Va., represents the 2nd District and Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., represents the 3rd District.
Capito believes the redistricting can occur with a minimum amount of effort to address the population shifts by moving a county or two to balance out the districts.
"That would be easier rather than throwing out the map and starting over," she said.
A public meeting has been set for 7 p.m. Wednesday in the council chambers at the Parkersburg City Building by the West Virginia Senate Redistricting Task Force to seek public comment.
Parkersburg and Wood County is currently in the 1st District along with Pleasants, Tyler, Ritchie, Gilmer and Doddridge counties. The counties of Wirt, Jackson, Calhoun and Roane are all in the 2nd District.
The West Virginia Constitution provides that the congressional districts should consist of whole counties whenever possible, the Secretary of State's office reported.
State Senator John Unger II, D-Berkeley, chairman of the task force, has said he intends to make the process of redistricting as transparent and open as possible.
According to numbers released by the state Senate, the 1st District saw an increase of 13,446 people in the 2010 census for a current total of 615,991. The 2nd District saw an increase of 45,943 people for a total of 602,243. The 3rd District saw a decrease of 14,739 for a total of 588,817.
Capito said she doesn't want to lose any of the counties she has represented over the last 10 years.
"I love all my counties," she said, comparing them to her children.
However, she believes the process can be accomplished by shifting around one or two counties and still maintain a consistency of representation for the districts as a whole.
Capito is interested in seeing what happens and said the best chance for success is for the process to be done openly and transparently.
McKinley said people now are really concerned about the economy and the affairs of the nation. He is hopeful the process will be done as fairly as possible in a short amount of time.
"My constituents are mainly concerned not with political matters but rather jobs, gas prices, fiscal responsibility and the protection of Social Security and Medicare; those are my most pressing priorities, as well," he said. "West Virginians simply want a redistricting process that is fair, transparent and serves their best interests, and it is my hope that their wishes are respected."