State redistricting commission to unveil proposals soon

September 5, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 6 a.m. Sept. 5, 2011

The state panel responsible for redrawing congressional and legislative districts is due to release proposals soon — and the electoral map for the Issaquah area is almost certain to change.

Washington State Redistricting Commission members, after a series of public forums, generated initial drafts for congressional and legislative districts. The commission is due to release the proposals Sept. 13 in Olympia.

Washington is in line to add a 10th congressional seat in 2012 due to population increases reflected in the 2010 Census. Most political observers expect the commission to add district 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 surged by 14.1 percent since the 2000 Census to more than 6.7 million people.

The change in population during the last decade is bound to impact local congressional and legislative districts.

The sprawling 8th Congressional District 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.

Populations also shifted in local legislative districts since 2000. Issaquah is spread among the 5th, 41st and 48th legislative districts.

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 topped the target population by 22,294 residents — and ranked among the fastest-growing districts in the Evergreen State.

The neighboring 41st Legislative District nudged past the target by 5,955 residents. But the 48th Legislative District did not meet the state goal by 10,195 people.

The redistricting commissions created the plans after input from the public about possible districts.

The commission hosted 18 public forums statewide from May through August. Overall, about 1,000 people attended the forums. In addition to the public testimony at the forums, commissioners received more than 170 written comments. Staffers mailed 38 do-it-yourself map kits to citizens and received 21 third-party plans.

The bipartisan commission includes 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 — and a nonvoting chairwoman, Lura Powell, former director of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

“I’m pleased to say that we heard from hundreds of people who gave us very thoughtful and useful feedback,” Powell said in a statement. “It impressed me to see the time and effort many had taken to inform their opinions about redrawing district lines in their communities. This input is important to the work of the commission as we develop new congressional and legislative district boundaries.”

Voters established the Washington State Redistricting Commission in 1983 to ensure a fair and bipartisan process is used to establish the electoral map.

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