CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Although Wednesday evening's public hearing was hosted by the state Senate, most speakers at the Kanawha County Courthouse wanted to discuss House redistricting -- and to demand single-member delegate districts.
As Delegate Rick Snuffer, R-Raleigh, put it, "It seems like across the state, the Senate is holding House redistricting hearings."
Wednesday's hearing, drawing 16 speakers and a crowd of about 80, was the third hosted by the Senate Select Committee on redistricting.
At the onset of the 90-minute hearing, Senate Committee Chairman John Unger, D-Berkeley, suggested the focus should be on state Senate and U.S. Congressional districts, since the Senate traditionally accepts whatever delegate redistricting plan the House approves.
However, Tommy Crouser of Mink Shoals urged the 15 senators at the hearing to reject any House plan that does not provide 100 single-member districts.
"You need to say, "We don't do dumb stuff," and send it back," he said, drawing applause from the crowd.
Putnam County's Jim Caruthers was even more adamant.
"We need single-member districts about as bad as anything in this state," he said, noting that Putnam County is split among three House districts, with representation coming from as far away as Logan County.
"Mr. Joe C. Ferrell was our delegate for one term, and he didn't even show up at the statehouse," Caruthers recalled.
Charleston lawyer George Carenbauer pointed out that 40 states currently mandate single-member districts, and that West Virginia is one of only three states that permit delegate districts with three or more members.