W.Va. state redistricting lines to be discussed at town hall meetings

June 01, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The second in a series of town hall meetings hosted by local state lawmakers to gather public input on redistricting will be held Thursday night at CNB bank on Hedgesville Road west of Martinsburg.

The two-hour public meeting is set to begin at 6 p.m.

Subsequent meetings in Berkeley and Jefferson counties are scheduled for:

  • Saturday at 10 a.m. in Bedington Fire Hall 6 p.m.
  • Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the First Baptist Church in Inwood, W.Va.
  • Wednesday at 6 p.m. in Martinsburg City Hall council chambers.
  • June 8 and 16 at 7 p.m. in the basement of the Charles Town Library, 200 E. Washington St.
Del. Walter Duke, R-Berkeley, one of two area lawmakers assigned to a special 30-member House redistricting committee last week, said Wednesday he didn’t know whether his appointment by House Speaker Rick Thompson was “a blessing or a curse.”

Tiffany Lawrence, D-Jefferson, also will serve on the committee, which Duke said is scheduled to meet for the first time later this month.

Duke said his goal with redrawing new district lines for the House of Delegates and the state’s three congressional districts is to keep communities intact that have shared interests. The state Senate, which will draw its own lines, has also been holding public meetings across the state.

Under the existing arrangement, portions of the cities of Martinsburg in Berkeley County and Charles Town in Jefferson County are in the 56th District, while the remaining parts of the respective county seats are in other House districts, officials said Wednesday.

Duke said he hoped to redraw the lines to place Martinsburg entirely within one delegate district, but additional areas outside the city boundaries will still need to be part of the new political subdivision to meet the required state minimum population per district.

Duke, whose district includes much of Martinsburg, said the Eastern Panhandle, combined with nearby Hampshire County, deserves to gain a total of two new House districts due to population gain since the 2000 census and the expectation of continued growth in the future.
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