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WCHS - Line Drawing

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With 2010 Census numbers due out soon, state lawmakers are preparing for a job that only comes once in a decade -- redistricting.

Acting Senate President Jeff Kessler says it all has to add up, no matter how you work the numbers.

"It's a matter of math. We're going to have to divide it into 17 districts and see where they land. There will be some movement and jockeying for that. But, at the end of the day, you start at the Northern Panhandle. There's only one way to go and that's South."

The new U.S. Census numbers are expected to show West Virginia saw very little population growth statewide over the past ten years. Certain regions of the state, though, have lost populations while others have gained. That will change the political landscape.

"Some areas of the state that have been rapidly growing like the North Central portion of the state, Bridgeport-Morgantown area, are going to pick up some seats and those that have lost population are going to lose some," the Acting Senate President said.

That's likely to be the Southern coalfields.

On the House side, Minority Leader Tim Armstead is hoping for more than just a change in boundary lines.

"Our priority is single member districts. We think that they are much more representative of the people. The representatives have more accountability to the citizens that elect them," Delegate Armstead said.

Some districts, like the 23rd District that makes up part of McDowell County, are already single member districts. Others like the 30th District, part of Kanawha County with seven delegates, have multi-members.

Armstead says it's not a matter of Republicans versus Democrats.

"There are a number of groups, bipartisan, who have come out for single member districts, so we hope when we get to the point of redistricting later this Summer, we'll be able to make these districts smaller, single member that everyone has a representative that they know they can work with."


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