With the initial 2020 Census numbers in the book, the time has come for the State to consider changing the borders of Washington’s legislative and Congressional districts. While the placement of Bainbridge Island is unchanged in proposed Congressional Maps of the four-person Washington State Redistricting Commission, the two Republican members have announced bold new plans to turn Kitsap County as red as possible in the Legislative Map.
The solution proposed by Paul Graves and Joe Fain is simple: Remove Bainbridge from Kitsap County’s 23rd District (where it currently sits alongside Poulsbo, Kingston, Bremerton and Silverdale) and instead make it officially part of Seattle. While their intent is shared, the two disagree on which part of Seattle the Island should join with – Joe Fain suggests Queen Anne and Magnolia in the 36th District, while Paul Graves prefers placing Bainbridge in West Seattle’s 43rd District.
In the name of balance, both of the maps proposed by the Democrats on the Redistricting Committee (April Sims and Brady Pinero Walkinshaw) definitely keep Bainbridge in the 23rd and neither Sims nor Walkinshaw are likely to find either of the Republican alternatives even vaguely acceptable. As the system requires three of those four voting committee members to approve any actual districting change, it is likely that the status quo will remain for at least another decade, but this is a timely reminder to pay attention to this committee after each census…
The Chamber of Commerce certainly recommends that any concerned Islander take a moment to strengthen the resolve of Democratic commissioners Sims and Walkinshaw with a well-timed letter or email before the committee starts finalizing their maps on November 15th.
REDISTRICTING BACKGROUND INFO
“Every 10 years, a bipartisan Washington State Redistricting Commission is established for the purpose of redrawing legislative and congressional district boundaries. The Commission consists of four voting members – two Democrats and two Republicans – picked by the leaders of their respective caucuses in the state House and Senate. A fifth nonvoting chairperson is then picked by the voting members.
The Commission must draw the district lines in conformity with strict, nonpartisan rules designed to create districts of relatively equal population that will provide fair representation for all Washingtonians.
The commission has until Nov. 15th, 2021 to draw up new political boundaries for the congressional and legislative districts using 2020 Census data. At least three of four members must agree to the maps. The Legislature can make only minor changes to the commission maps and the Governor has no role.
Under state law, districts must be made as equal in population as possible and aren’t supposed to be gerrymandered for partisan advantage or discriminate against any group. They’re also supposed to avoid splitting up cities and other political subdivisions.”
Have Your Say
The Commission will be holding special statewide online meetings in October ; the one for those proposed Legislative Districts is on Tuesday October 5 at 7pm; and the one for Congressional Districts is on Tuesday October 9 at 7pm.
No registration is required for those just looking to observe, but you can sign up for public comment at https://www.redistricting.wa.gov/outreach-meetings
View each Commissioner’s proposed Legislative District Maps at: https://www.redistricting.wa.gov/commissioner-proposed-maps
Submit your own public comment (in written, audio, or video form) at: https://www.redistricting.wa.gov/submit-public-testimony
Drop the commissioners a letter at: Washington State Redistricting Committee, PO Box 40948, Olympia, WA 98504-0948