State redistricting panel calls for comments on proposed maps

October 6, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 8 a.m. Oct. 6, 2011

Washington’s political map is due to undergo a monumental shift next year, and citizens can comment on the proposed plans to reshape Evergreen State congressional and legislative districts.

The state panel responsible for redrawing the political map is hosting a public hearing on the proposals at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday in Olympia. Members meet on the Capitol campus in Senate Hearing Room 4, Cherberg Building, 304 15th Ave.

“Since the plans were made public, we’ve received lots of comment through our website,” Lura Powell, Washington State Redistricting Commission chairwoman, said in a statement. “But not everyone is comfortable with giving us input in that way, so we’re offering this public meeting to provide other ways for people to participate.”

The bipartisan Washington State Redistricting Commission unveiled four proposals — one from each commissioner — Sept. 13 to reshape the state’s congressional districts. (Commissioners proposed a series of major changes to Issaquah-area congressional and legislative districts.)

“People can attend in person and comment to us directly, or they can phone in or write in via the Internet, and I’ll read their comments to the audience,” Powell continued.

If citizens cannot attend the Olympia meeting, TVW plans to broadcast the proceedings live. Citizens can call 800-980-1604 to offer comments to commissioners.

Or, watch the meeting online through a TVW webcast. Participants can send comments to commissioners through a webcast portal on the commission’s website.

Powell plans to read the comments aloud during the meeting.

For people in need of auxiliary aids or services, including language interpretation, contact Heather Boe at 360-786-0770 or heather.boe@redistricting.wa.gov.

Though the commission is allowed to work until Jan. 1, commissioners intend to complete the redistricting process by November. If the commission fails to create a final map by Jan. 1, then the state Supreme Court is responsible for redrawing the districts.

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, Powell, former director of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Washington voters established the Washington State Redistricting Commission in 1983 to establish voting boundaries through a bipartisan and fair process.

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