Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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February 21, 2010

Chafin says redistricting will change West Virginia’s political landscape

BLUEFIELD — The political landscape in West Virginia may undergo a significant shift following the 2010 census, and that shift could impact the current leadership in the state legislature.

“It is a tough issue,” State Senator H. Truman Chafin, majority leader in the state senate said during a telephone interview Saturday morning from his Mingo County home. “When the census is finished, the legislature will start redistricting and redistricting is obviously a political process. Right now, we in southern West Virginia hold leadership positions.

“West Virginia is like five different states,” Chafin said. “The eastern panhandle, northern panhandle, southern coalfields, the northern section and Kanawha River valley all have different needs. They are all really unique.”

Chafin said that the southern coalfields “has wealth in the ground and in our forests,” he said. “I feel like we need to protect where the wealth comes from. The eastern panhandle is really coming along with a lot of people moving there from the Baltimore and Washington area. I hope that their revenues will come along. But our wealth is in our coal, oil, timber and gas.

“Redistricting is a political process and as majority leader, I participated in the redistricting process in 2001,” Chafin said. “I think this is a serious issue, and one that all of us need to pay close attention to.”

Political leaders in Bluefield have already urged citizens to be aware of the census, and to make sure they are counted. “Getting an accurate count is very important,” Chafin said. “I think it’s important for everyone be aware that redistricting could change our political map.”

In addition to Chafin, Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin, D-Logan, and House Finance Chairman, Delegate Harry Keith White, D-Mingo, are also from the southern West Virginia coalfields. Chafin said the house and senate districts will be redrawn in 2011, and will be used in the 2012 elections.

– Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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