Redrawn maps could shift Issaquah congressional, legislative districts

September 20, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

Issaquah could shift into a redrawn congressional district under plans from the panel responsible for redrawing Washington’s political map.

The bipartisan Washington State Redistricting Commission unveiled four proposals — one from each commissioner — Sept. 13 to reshape the state’s congressional districts. The task for commissioners is made more complicated by the addition of a 10th district to account for population growth since 2000.

The maps serve as a starting point as commissioners negotiate the boundaries for the 2012 elections. If the commission fails to create a final map by Jan. 1, then the state Supreme Court is responsible for redrawing the districts.

Issaquah, long inside 8th Congressional District boundaries, could shift into the 1st Congressional District as commissioners assemble districts using data from the 2010 Census.

The bipartisan redistricting 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.

Get involved

Citizens can comment on the congressional and legislative redistricting proposals at the Washington State Redistricting Commission’s website, www.redistricting.wa.gov, or at a public meeting in Olympia next month.

The commission meets at 10:30 a.m. in Hearing Room 3 of the Cherberg Building on the Capitol campus. The panel is scheduled to meet Oct. 11 and, if necessary, Nov. 8 and Dec. 13. Though the commission is allowed to work until Jan. 1, commissioners intend to complete the redistricting process by November.

Democrats Ceis and Foster proposed using Issaquah as the southern boundary for a reshaped 1st District. Republicans Gorton and Huff offered plans to keep Issaquah in a transformed 8th District.

Former King County Sheriff Dave Reichert, a Republican, is the 8th District representative. The representative in the 1st District, Democrat Jay Inslee, is a candidate for governor in 2012. The race for Inslee’s U.S. House seat attracted challengers even before he entered the race for the Governor’s Mansion.

Each commissioner also proposed updated boundaries for the state’s 49 legislative districts.

Issaquah is spread among the 5th, 41st and 48th legislative districts under a map created after the 2000 Census.

Ceis and Foster proposed for the 41st District to encompass Issaquah and for the 5th District to include rural areas beyond city limits. Gorton and Huff offered ideas to split the city between the 5th and 41st districts.

Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger said the relationship between the city and legislators, and lawmakers and constituents, is based more on the legislator, rather than how large a portion of a city he or she represents.

“We have a three-district split right now between the 5th, the 41st and the 48th,” she said. “In a way, it makes it easier to make it deal with Olympia because we have contact with legislators from a number of districts, and we can more readily inform people about issues that are important to us. Of course, the hope is that the legislators in the several districts will have similar thoughts about why those things are important and honor those requests.”

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