Panel prepares to redraw state’s legislative map

January 18, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 6 a.m. Jan. 18, 2011

The process to reset the state’s legislative and congressional district starts Tuesday, as the members of the Washington State Redistricting Commission take office.

The bipartisan commission includes four voting members: Democrats Tim Ceis, a former Seattle deputy mayor, and Dean Foster, a former chief clerk for the state House of Representatives, and Republicans Slade Gorton, a former U.S. senator, and Tom Huff, a former state budget chairman.

Chief Justice Barbara Madsen is scheduled to swear in the redistricting commission members at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

The commission then selects a fifth member to serve as a nonvoting chairperson.

Washington is in line to add a 10th congressional seat in 2012. Most political observers expect the district to be created on the Eastside or in the South Puget Sound region.

The change reflects the population figures released as part of the 2010 Census. The state population has swelled by 14.1 percent since the 2000 Census to 6,724,540 people.

State elections officials said the addition of a 10th district means significant changes for the other Evergreen State districts. Washington last added a congressional seat — for the Tacoma-centric 9th Congressional District — after the 1990 Census.

The change in population during the last decade is certain to impact Issaquah’s congressional and legislative districts.

The sprawling 8th Congressional District has added 137,750 residents since the 2000 Census. State figures indicate the district increased in population more than the state’s eight other congressional districts.

The district is home to about 800,000 people. The state considers the ideal population for a district to be 672,000.

Republican Congressman Dave Reichert has represented the suburban district in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2005.

The state added the 8th District after the 1980 Census. No Democrat has represented the district in Congress, even as district voters backed Democrats for state and federal offices.

The district stretches from Bellevue, Issaquah, Sammamish and other Eastside and South King County cities through rural Pierce County.

How the redistricting process could reshape the legislative map for Issaquah is unknown, but population changes offer a clue.

The state considers the target population for a legislative district to be 137,326 people.

Since the last redistricting a decade ago, the 5th Legislative District has topped the target population by 22,294 residents — and ranks among the fastest-growing districts in the state.

The neighboring 41st Legislative District nudged past the target by 5,955 residents. But the 48th Legislative District is 10,195 residents shy of the state goal.

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