Charles Town leaders working to even out ward numbers

CHARLES TOWN— Charles Town leaders took the first steps toward updating the city’s ward boundaries Monday.

The City Council completed the first reading of an ordinance it approved July 9 that will bring the city into compliance with West Virginia Code regarding ward boundaries following the redrawing of the county’s magisterial map following the 2010 U.S. Census. The magisterial districts were redrawn to reflect reflect population growth. However, the Charles Town ward boundaries were not changed in the new map.

Ward 3 Councilman Jonathan Wertman serves on the council’s ordinance committee. He told council members Monday told council members the ordinance “provides a framework for changing ward boundaries.

“We want to make sure there are similar amounts of people in each ward,” Wertman said.

Charles Town is divided into four wards with two members representing each ward. According to Mills and City Clerk Kiya Tabb, Ward 1 now has a population of 658; Ward 2 has 2,206; Ward 3 has 1,445; and Ward 4 has 693. The current ordinance does not call for the addition of more ward representatives.

The ordinance’s second reading will be Aug. 4, then the council will vote on the ordinance.

Charles Town citizens vote for the entire council, not merely for representatives of the wards they reside in. Only when candidates file for election do they file to represent the ward where they live.

“Ward representatives live in that ward and have an interest in what happens there,” Mills said. “But ward representatives and the mayor represent the entire city.”

The ordinance authorizes that city ward boundaries follow Jefferson County voting precinct lines as closely as possible, as long as each ward’s population total deviates no more than 15 percent of one-quarter of the total population of the city. Deviations of more than 15 percent will require that an updated city ward map be prepared for the council to approve.

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