There has been much speculation recently in the local media that Raleigh County is underrepresented in the West Virginia House of Delegates. Some have asserted that Raleigh County lacks the requisite number of delegates and one even asserts that Raleigh County is poorly represented based upon legislative grades given out by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The problem with this speculation is that the arguments are untenable. Raleigh County’s population from the 2020 census will likely allocate approximately four delegates for our county. There are currently four delegates residing within Raleigh County, all of whom were reelected. While the delegate district boundaries will change somewhat after redistricting next fall, there will very likely remain four delegates residing within Raleigh County.
The other assertion is that Raleigh County is poorly represented. This claim was made in a local paper based upon poor grades given to three of the four delegates by the ACLU. Unfortunately, it was omitted that the ACLU is a very leftist, liberal organization which does not represent the values of conservative southern West Virginians. This would actually indicate that the delegation from Raleigh County does represent the interests of their constituency, and does the job Raleigh County sent them to do.
In the House of Delegates there are six major committees through which all legislation passes. Those committees are Finance, Judiciary, Education, Government Organization, Health and Human Resources, and Energy. Additionally, there are five leadership positions: Speaker, Majority Leader, Assistant Majority Leader, Majority Whip and Speaker Pro Tempore. House Speaker Roger Hanshaw recently released the names of his leadership team. Raleigh County delegates chair one-third of the major committees. Brandon Steele (R-Raleigh) was named Chairman of the Committee on Government Organization and Jeff Pack (R-Raleigh) was named Chairman of the House Committee on Health and Human Resources. Beyond that, Delegate Kayla Kessinger (R-Fayette) who represents part of Raleigh County was named to a second term as Assistant Majority Leader. This means that Raleigh County has nearly thirty percent of the members of the Speaker’s Leadership Team. No other individual county can claim such a distinction. Given these facts, one would be hard pressed to argue that Raleigh County is not well represented in the House.
Raleigh County’s delegation to the House has ensured that Raleigh County has a seat at the table for influencing major legislative initiatives. While the democrats sought to “break up” Raleigh County after the 2010 census to make it easier for democrats to win and hold power, what actually occurred over the course of the past ten years was we were set up with the best conservative delegation we could achieve.