And Then again by Tamara Pettit

……West Virginia is once again losing a Congressman. The State’s population decline of 3.2 percent in the 2020 Census means that we will go from three to two congressman and our voice in “the peoples’ house” will be diminished. Our State is not alone. Surrounding states Pennsylvania and Ohio have experienced declines in their population as well. From 1917 to 1960, West Virginia had six congressmen, but since then we have been in a spiraling decline.
…… While the Federal Government through the census bureau is responsible for declaring we lose a congressman, the power to decide how the lines defining the new districts lies with the West Virginia legislature. I was in the legislature when we reduced from four districts to three districts in 1991. At the time all four congressman were incumbents: Rep. Alan Mollohan, Harley “Bucky” Staggers, Nick Jo Rahall; and Bob Wise. Unless one retired two of the four incumbents would be pitted against the other. Two of those incumbents, Mollohan and Staggers, were second generation congressmen with fathers Robert Mollohan and Harley Staggers, Sr. having held the seats before their sons so there was a sense of family ownership of those congressional seats.
……The real battle as to who would retain the Congressional seats wasn’t slugged out on Election Day. Rather it was a series of skirmishes fought in the House of Delegates which became responsible for approving the redistricting plan. I was a novice legislator who viewed the maneuvering with amazement and a little disgust for it was beyond ugly. Each congressman had his staff people walking the halls, setting up camps in legislator’s offices from their district, commandeering legislators’ telephones and faxes (before cell phones.) Each congressman was fighting for the lines to be drawn in a way which benefited him and those congressmen were all versed in how to wage a campaign or for that matter…war.
….. When all was said and done the votes were taken Bucky Staggers was the odd man out as he was gerrymandered out of his district. While Bucky’s district vote concentration was predominantly in Mineral County the majority of that County was placed in another district while the line was drawn to include his residence in Mineral County in the 1st District. Ironically, the two second generation congressmen, Staggers and Mollohan, would face each other in a battle for the 1st District Seat. Mollohan, with voter base intact would be victorious while Bucky with his voter base decimated would lose. (By the way, all four seated congressmen were Democrat at the time. Now all three seated members of Congress are Republicans.)
……The redistricting plan would be subsequently challenged at the Supreme Court level and the ruling came back that West Virginia’s terrain makes it pretty impossible to apportion the districts equally. The very definition of gerrymandering says to “deliberately manipulate district lines to place the votes in such a way that it is advantageous to one party.”
……The North/South Congressional Redistricting makes sense to me. That puts both the Eastern Panhandle and the Northern Panhandle in the 1st District along with Morgantown, Clarksburg, Fairmont. It leaves the more populous Charleston in the 2nd District along with Beckley, Bluefield, Huntington and the Southern coalfields. That would pit Cong. David McKinley against Cong. Alex Mooney who replaced Shelly Moore Capito in the seat. Having served in the House of Delegates for quite some time, the 74-year-old McKinley is pretty savvy about the workings of the State legislature. Mooney, is a newcomer to West Virginia having lived in Maryland and served in that State’s legislature. He moved to Charlestown in the Eastern Panhandle prior to filing for the Congressional seat and the term “carpetbagger” will surely be tossed about That would leave Congressman Carole Miller in District 2. Miller also has spent some time in the WV Legislature and hails from a political family although not from West Virginia. Her father, Sam Devine, was a Congressman from Ohio. Let the games begin!
…..”If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, can you call it a swan?” That’s kinda the question residents are asking about The Depot RV Campground at the corner of Collins and 9th in Chester. One of the residents of that neighborhood, Ed Schmidt, appeared before Chester City Council Monday to ask if Sunset Development owner Bob Reed was going to adhere to the stipulations of the mobile home ordinance now that his five applications for mobile home sites had been approved. Among other stipulations in the ordinance are that the mobile homes be skirted and sidewalks be installed. I drove by the park after the Council meeting and thought, “hmmm. No sidewalks or skirting for sure, but even more important is that even my uneducated eye can see that those are campers there, big ones yes, but they are campers. A newly erected sign limits access to “campers and guests” putting any doubt to rest that this is indeed a campground.
……Schmidt questioned City Solicitor Mike Adams about the City filing an appeal. I would think rather than an appeal, the City would cite Reed for not complying with the stipulations of the ordinance . I wonder though if this is what Circuit Judge David Sims had in mind when he ordered the City to grant the Mobile Home Permit to Reed? And, can the City now revoke Sunset’s three permits for those sites occupied cause clearly those are campers sitting on them. Perhaps rather than ruling that a duck is a swan, Sims should have called a duck a duck.
…..I fear, however, the game is afoot once again. Looking at the bills the City is paying for the legal representation by Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith on the issue, however, I fear it’s a game a small town like Chester can’t afford to play.