"Twenty actually makes more sense, numbers-wise," said Councilman Bobby Reishman, a South Hills Republican who is also on the redistricting committee.
At-large Democratic Councilman Andy Richardson, who is not on the committee but still attended, said he, too, felt it would be prudent to reduce the size of council by one.
"The population of our city has decreased ... and we have two more wards than we did in 1960.
Molgaard said the city dropped a council seat in the 1960s, which gives precedent for the city to do it again.
Vaughan said state law is silent regarding eliminating wards.
Charleston's 27-member city council is the largest in the state, and is much bigger than councils in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus. It's also bigger than the District of Columbia Council; legislatures of U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam; and the senates of Nevada, Alaska, Delaware, New Hampshire and Hawaii.
In part, council is so large because it is neighborhood-based, Reishman said. That gives each neighborhood a say in city government.
"It has actually worked very well having a large council," he said during the committee meeting.
Charleston's population peaked at about 85,000 people in the 1960s, but has declined in every Census since.
During the years Charleston was growing - and then after - the city continued to add wards. According to city code, there were 17 wards in 1929 and 19 by 1958. The city dropped a ward in 1966, but then added two more in 1982 before arriving at the current 21.
In addition to the 21 ward-based seats, there are also six at-large members. There are 14 Democrats, 10 Republicans, one Mountain Party and one Independent.
According to city code, "each member of the city council shall receive the sum of $200.00 per meeting, with a maximum yearly compensation of $5,600.00, with payments conditioned upon the councilmember's being present."
The nine-member Committee on Redistricting was formed at an October city council meeting at Mayor Danny Jones' request.
Councilman Brent Burton, a South Hills Republican, is the committee's chairman. Other Republicans on the committee include Bobby Reishman (South Hills, Ward 17), Mike Stajduhar (West Side, Ward 7) and John Miller (Kanawha City, Ward 18).
Democrats include Jack Harrison (South Hills, Ward 14), Sam Minardi (South Hills, Ward 16), Shannon Snodgrass (Oakridge Road area, Ward 12), and Mary Jean Davis and Jerry Ware (both at large).
In addition to those on the committee, other council members attended, including Richardson, South Hills Ward 13 Republican Councilwoman Susie Salisbury, downtown/East End Ward 10 Democratic Councilman Robert Sheets, East End Ward 9 Independent Councilman Cubert Smith and West Side Ward 6 Democratic Councilman Ed Talkington.
The committee will meet next at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 13 at City Hall.
Contact writer Matt Murphy at Matt.Mur...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4817.