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Keep West Virginia’s Growth Areas Separate

Lawmakers in Charleston should not treat redrawing the state’s congressional map as a simple task to be completed. There’s too much at stake for West Virginia to not fully think through how best to draw the new map.

Unfortunately, judging by some of the new congressional maps proposed on Thursday, it appears little thought is being put into the state’s future.

Lawmakers on Thursday saw more than a dozen proposed redistricting maps. While many maps took the easy and predictable route by forming a twisty east-west line across the state that would keep the growth areas of Morgantown and Martinsburg together, at least three state senators — Dave Sypolt, R-Preston, Glenn Jeffries, D-Putnam, and Sen. Charles Trump, R-Morgan — offered maps that truly would best serve West Virginia for the next decade by splitting the growth areas into separate districts.

“If (Morgantown and Martinsburg) continue to grow, you’re going to see a change in population between the two districts that is disproportionate,” Sypolt said.

“The Interstate 79 corridor is a divide that keeps the Martinsburg area, the Eastern Panhandle area, divided from the Morgantown area,” Sen. Glenn Jeffries, D-Putnam, added. “That way, you have two areas that are growing that can filter the southern parts of West Virginia.”

That’s the key here — how best to serve the shrinking and struggling areas in southern West Virginia. Having one district that encompasses all of southern West Virginia along with Charleston and Huntington will lead to more of what we’re seeing now — economic struggles and population loss. Perhaps approaching this in a different and thoughtful manner will yield positive future results.

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