CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Charleston City Council is meeting Monday night to vote on a map that will set precincts for next year’s election. This comes after new census data shows fewer than 50,000 people live in the city.
Those involved in the process say there will be some minor adjustments in tonight’s meeting, but there will be 20 wards where every council member will be responsible for about 2,400 people.
The key differences in the current map and the one being proposed Monday is that two council members represent Ward 19, no council members live in Ward 13, and Ward 11 will become larger, since they lost population according to the 2020 census data.
City Attorney Kevin Baker says most changes will reflect state legislature lines.
“The way the legislature drew the Senate and House of Delegates lines, they cut through the city of Charleston and so they won’t match up perfectly with those lines, there are some where they are right in line and there are some where there are none in line and the changes that will be proposed tonight will make those lines more consistent throughout the city,” said Baker.
Also on the agenda is a resolution requesting the creation of a select committee to study the size and election of city council, something council member Jennifer Pharr brought up in previous meetings, even suggesting reducing the number of wards to ten. Former council member, David Molgaard says although the number of council members might seem like a lot, it works for Charleston.
“I think that if you were to reduce the number of council members then more council members would have to spend more time on more committees. The fact of the matter is with a larger council you actually have people from all walks of life. And so you get a lot of different viewpoints, particularly in committee meetings,” said Molgaard.
Charleston residents seem to agree. Thomas Toliver a resident for 88 years says, “The more people we can get involved the more problems we can solve so I totally disagree with that.”
Regardless, Baker says city council hopes to get a map approved by Thanksgiving, so if it doesn’t pass, they’ll call a special meeting.