King County Council appoints citizens to redraw districts
January 25, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
King County Council members appointed a team of community leaders last week to update the map for representation in county government.
The council appointed four members Jan. 18 to the King County Districting Committee, the citizen committee responsible for redrawing council districts based on 2010 Census data. The county is carved into nine districts, each represented by a single council member.
“Redistricting is a challenging, time-consuming process that is vital to ensuring our residents are fairly represented,” Councilman Reagan Dunn said in a statement. “We are grateful that these four highly-qualified community members are willing to provide their service to King County.”
Dunn represents District 9 on the nine-member council. The district encompasses the rural area near Issaquah, plus Newcastle, Maple Valley and areas inside Bellevue and Renton.
Issaquah proper is inside District 3; Councilwoman Kathy Lambert represents the area. The northeastern King County district is the largest in the county.
Both districts could be shifted as the citizen committee starts to sift through population data.
The council appointed representatives from across the county to serve on the panel. The lineup includes:
- Rod Dembowski is a partner at the Seattle-based law firm Foster Pepper, a former policy analyst for then-County Executive Gary Locke and a staff assistant for the U.S. Senate. Dembowski has also been a member of the Four Creeks Unincorporated Area Council, the community council for the rural area near Issaquah.
- John Jensen is president of Jensen Roofing Co. and a past member of the King County Charter Review Commission. Jensen, a Newcastle resident, has also served the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce as a longtime board member and past president.
- Sally Nelson is a longtime civic leader in South King County and helped spearhead the effort to incorporate Burien. Then, she later served on the Burien City Council and as mayor.
- Sally Poliak leads The Poliak Group, a strategic communications and public affairs advocacy firm, as CEO and president. Before she assumed the post, she served as the chief operating officer at Nyhus Communications and spent 10 years at Microsoft in marketing and public affairs positions. Poliak served on the 1991 county districting committee.
“I am pleased that we have such a strong group of citizens engaged in many diverse civic activities who have volunteered for this duty,” Lambert said in the statement. “I appreciate the commitment they have made, and I look forward to working with this bipartisan panel to update our district boundaries based on the new census data.”
The county charter grants the authority for adopting a final districting map to the citizen Districting Committee, not the County Council.
Under the charter, the appointed Districting Committee members must select a fifth person to serve as a chairperson.
The committee then chooses a technical expert to serve as “districting master” and holds public meetings to gather community input. The committee must complete the process and file the final districting plan by Jan. 15, 2012.
“It’s intimidating, and at the same time it’s exciting,” Jensen said. “What we’re all waiting to see is the first map to get to see where the population changes have occurred.”
State law and the King County Charter require council district boundaries to be reset by using the most recent census data.
The statutes require the edges of each district to meet the boundaries of existing municipalities, election precincts, census tracts, recognized natural boundaries, and communities of related and mutual interest as closely as possible.
“We can all look around and see there was a development here or there in our neighborhood,” Jensen said. “There’s a little bit of anxiety until we get to see what needs to be done.”
Districts must also be drawn as contiguous areas and to be as nearly equal in population as possible. The population data may not be used to favor or disadvantage any racial group or political party.
“The council worked together to find committee members who have a deep knowledge of our local communities, an understanding of government and the political process, and an ability to work together on challenging issues,” council Chairman Larry Gossett said in the statement.
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Reporter Tim Pfarr contributed to this report. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.