Latest political maps offer Issaquah similar, different options from status quo

October 16, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 6 a.m. Oct. 16, 2011

Washington’s political map is due to undergo a monumental change next year.

Issaquah may shift into a reshaped legislative district as a result. Or maybe not.

Democrats on the state panel responsible for redrawing the political map recommended for a redrawn 41st Legislative District to absorb all of Issaquah. Meanwhile, Republicans on the Washington State Redistricting Commission said most of the city should remain in the neighboring 5th Legislative District.

Commissioners released the proposed maps Oct. 14. The proposals narrowed the number of possibilities for legislative districts.

Under a legislative map adopted a decade ago, Issaquah is split between the 41st and 5th districts at 12th Avenue Northwest. South Cove and other neighborhoods along Lake Sammamish fall inside the 48th Legislative District.

The latest proposals from the redistricting commission remove the 48th District from the Issaquah equation. Instead, Democrats said the city should join Mercer Island, Newcastle and a portion of Bellevue in a suburban 41st District.

Republicans recommended for neighborhoods in North Issaquah, along Lake Sammamish and some on Cougar Mountain to shift into the 41st District. The remaining Issaquah neighborhoods could then remain in a redrawn 5th District.

Both proposals also call for the rural communities near Issaquah to stay in the 5th District.

Commissioners accepted a last round of public comment Oct. 11 during a public meeting in Olympia. Citizens also offered comments via email and phone.

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.

Each commissioner unveiled proposed legislative maps last month, plus proposals for reshaped congressional districts. The commission has not yet narrowed the number of proposals for congressional districts.

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

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

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