WV Supreme Court hears Taylor County redistricting case - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

WV Supreme Court hears Taylor County redistricting case

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Photo courtesy of the West Virginia Supreme Court. Photo courtesy of the West Virginia Supreme Court.
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A Taylor County redistricting that started in the 1980s, which seeks to determine who will serve as county commissioner, recently was heard before the West Virginia Supreme Court.

Diane Parker, chairman of the Taylor County Democratic Executive Committee, and commissioner runner-up John Michael Withers filed the action against Taylor County Commissioner Anthony Veltri.

The action sought a writ of mandamus to remove Veltri from his position and replace him with Withers.

The lower court granted summary judgment in favor of Parker and Withers. This meant Veltri was removed and replaced by Withers because of "procedural redistricting mistakes in 1984."

In their brief to the state's highest court, Parker and Withers argue Veltri can't be county commissioner because in the 1980s, a portion of the district in which Veltri lives was moved to another district — the same district as another sitting county commissioner.

Parker and Withers said later actions taken by the county commission to withdraw the action to move districts were invalid because commissioners didn't follow public notice requirements.

Veltri, however, argued the Taylor County Commission rightfully withdrew its earlier decision to move that portion of his district to another district.

In his brief to the state Supreme Court, Veltri says the commission enacted four redistricting actions from 1983-1984, which played musical chairs with two Taylor County districts.

The first redistricting action moved Veltri's home from the Tygart District to the Western District. The county commission then reversed this decision because it created an illegal precinct and moved Veltri's home back to where it was originally, the brief states.

The commission then decided this action "created a serious problem" and moved to withdraw it. This meant Veltri's home was back in the Western District, his brief states.

In the last action, the commission moved to transfer voters from the Tygart and Western Districts back to their original precinct, which Veltri says made him a residence of the Tygart District.

Before the 2008 election, Veltri's brief states, Parker filed a mandamus petition seeking to remove a candidate from the ballot. Veltri said the court later found Veltri lived in the Tygart district and removed the other candidate. David Gobel was elected commissioner from the Western District.

In their brief, Parker and Withers argued actions the commission took in 1984 to reverse the redistricting action that moved a portion of the Tygart District to the Western District did not comply with public notice requirements.

Parker and Withers say Veltri always has lived in the Western District and since no two county commissioners can be elected from the same district, Veltri should be removed. 

Veltri argues in his brief that state law prohibits the use of mandamus for resolving eligibility issues and said the court shouldn't have relied on the Burkhart case to "circumvent West Virginia law," which he says prohibits a losing candidate from taking the position if the winning candidate is disqualified.

A decision in this case should come before the end of the court's fall term.