A map on the wall above commissioners displays the three major municipalities of Logan County. A movement to redistrict commission representation to align with the municipalities has steam, but not everyone is in favor.
Public presentations concerning changes to the magisterial districts in Logan County were delivered to Logan County Commissioners Monday.
West Virginia State Senator Rupie Phillips endorses a new county map with three magisterial districts that each cover North, Central and South districts. Senator Phillips compared the county boundary redistricting to recently adopted district lines in the state Senate. Phillips claims the new Seventh Senate District that encompasses all of Logan, Boone and Lincoln counties makes him more accessible to the public. The Senator believes new county districts can make commissioners more accessible if they are more closely represent the three major municipalities.
“I think it’s only fair,” Phillips said to commissioners, “that all three towns have representation.”
According to West Virginia Code, each county shall be laid off by the county commission into magisterial districts, not less than three nor more than ten in number, and as nearly equal as may be in territory and population.
Current magisterial map
Currently, Logan County is divided by Western, Central and Eastern districts. According to orders obtained from the Logan County Clerk’s office, the last change in boundary lines occurred fourteen years ago on June 27, 2007. Since the last time county district lines were drawn, Logan has gained Diana Barnette and Danny Ellis as commissioners. Ellis recently announced he will not run for re-election next year.
Most of the presentations were in favor of the districts changing, however Jermey Farley says the process is being rushed.
Farley the current President of the Logan County Board of Education and is the only announced candidate for the Eastern District of the county commission. Farley says limiting the district lines to only considering the municipalities of Chapmanville, Logan and Man will put restrictions on individuals that may want to run for office. Moreover, Farley says most Logan County residents don’t live in a municipality.
Farley says he’s in favor of a minimum of six magisterial districts in Logan County and there should always be four open districts for every election.
“I’m not against redistricting in and of itself,” Farley said. “I don’t agree with the map that was presented by the community group on October 25.”
Farley’s point of contention is from an action commissioners approved at the previous meeting two weeks ago.
At the previous meeting, commissioners approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the West Virginia GIS Tech Center to redraw the existing voting precincts and magisterial districts to comply with the rules and regulations set forth in state code. Commissioners agreed to pay GIS $5,000 to produce maps to consider for possible future redistricting. The MOU states the first draft of the new voting districts will be submitted to the commission by December sixth.
Farley contends that the action was not listed on the agenda of the commission’s previous meeting, and the action should not have been acted on without public notice.
“That was done in violation of the open meetings law,” Farley alleged. “It did not appear on the agenda, and it was acted upon. Which deprived citizens the ability to know, before the meeting, it would be acted upon.”
Logan County Prosecutor David Wandling said during the meeting the MOU doesn’t need to be on the agenda.
Commissioners Bartnette and Ellis questioned the need to put these items on the commission’s meeting agenda. Barnette said the commission hires companies all the time without the companies or reasons listed the agenda.
“How would this be any different?” Barnette questioned.
“It’s not,” Wandling answered.
Commissioner Ellis asked if there is any requirement the MOU needs to be listed on the agenda.
“My opinion is no,” Wandling said.
Farley asked the commission to cease further conversation concerning the redistricting until after the 2022 election cycle.
Local businessman and political heavy hitter Richard Abraham claimed he created the redistricted map previously presented to the commission on October 25. At that time, it was believed the map was created and submitted by residents of Tridelphia.
Abraham said he’s been gerrymandered before by the legislature during redistricting and he calls it "disenfranchisement."
“I’m passionate about this,” Abraham said. “I don’t have any problem speaking publicly, but this is very disturbing.”
Abraham said the current map doesn’t reflect the county’s make-up. He says his proposal guarantees representation for Logan, Chapmanville and Man.
“I’m in the East District and I live west of one hundred precent of the people who reside in the Central District.”
The first day of filing for the 2022 Election cycle is January 10.
Abraham's Proposal | Oct. 25th