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Redistricting

Create Map That’s Best for All of W.Va.

West Virginia lawmakers have a tall task on their hands as they contemplate the consequences of the Mountain State’s continued population loss.

With that has come the need to redraw our Congressional and legislative district boundaries — and in the case of the Congressional districts, whittle those districts down from three to two.

Among the questions in doing so is how to fairly account for the population centers of the state — only two of which are growing.

One option is a diagonal line slashed across the state like a sash, which would include the growth areas of Morgantown and Martinsburg in a new district. That option would start just west of Morgantown and end in south-eastern West Virginia. Beckley would be included in the district, while the second district would include Wheeling, Parkersburg, Charleston and Huntington.

A second option is a horizontal line across the middle of the state that includes the Eastern Panhandle and all of north central West Virginia and the Northern Panhandle.

Again, both these options would see the two bright lights of economic development and population growth show up in the same district.

We don’t believe that’s a wise choice. To best serve all of West Virginia, it would be better to split Morgantown and Martinsburg into separate districts.

The right idea — one that would be fairer for all residents, in the long run — is a line that begins on the eastern edge of Tucker County and then makes its twisty turny way across the state in a not-quite-so horizontal manner. Maps drawn to show this possibility include Wheeling, Morgantown, Parkersburg and Charleston in District 1; and Martinsburg, Beckley and Huntington in District 2.

For now, West Virginians are represented in Washington by Republican U.S. Reps. David McKinley, District 1; Alex Mooney, District 2; and Carol Miller, District 3. Any redrawing is likely to leave District 1 in the very capable hands of McKinley, with the outcome for any iteration of District 2 being less predictable.

But that doesn’t matter right now. What matters is state lawmakers creating legislation that redraws the line in a way to provide fair representation to every part of the state, rather than giving half the state an enormous advantage over the other. Drawing a wandering but still roughly horizontal line that separates Morgantown and Martinsburg will do that.

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