Redistricting changes political landscape in Western Washington

Proposed Draft Congressional Map and Eastern Washington Legislative Maps from Dec. 28, 2011, Special Meeting. - Courtesy of Washington State Redistricting Commission
Proposed Draft Congressional Map and Eastern Washington Legislative Maps from Dec. 28, 2011, Special Meeting.
— image credit: Courtesy of Washington State Redistricting Commission

A proposed map of the legislative districts in Washington would create some major changes in the political landscape of the state, but especially in Western Washington.

The proposed map, released Dec. 28 by the state's Redistricting Commission, would make Federal Way's district, the 9th District, the state's first "majority-minority" congressional district, meaning that the majority of people in the district are "non-white." According to some reports, that margin is slim, with the 9th District now comprised of 50.3 percent "non-white" residents. The district is represented by Congressman Adam Smith, a Democrat who was first elected in 1997 to the U.S. House of Representatives.

The proposed map would create a new legislative district, the 10th District, centered on the Olympia area. The 10th District is being created because Washington has seen nearly a million new residents move into the state since the 2000 Census. The 8th District would be the most radically changed, with the proposal including parts of King, Pierce, Kittitas and Chelan counties.

The proposal was put together by Republican and Democratic commissioners, and requires at least a third vote from the four-member committee. The deadline for the maps is Jan. 1. That Jan. 1 deadline could be in jeopardy, however, as an unexpected snag arose late on Dec. 28, over the redrawing of some districts in Eastern Washington. The commission was set to reconvene on Dec. 29 to attempt to untangle this last snarl in the delicate political process.

If the commission cannot agree on the new maps, the process will be turned over to the state's Supreme Court.


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