Redistricting Commission Says it Reached Agreement Monday Night; Regrets 12th District Split of Chelan, Douglas Counties
The Washington State Redistricting Commission is now saying that it had agreed and voted on a detailed framework for the state's congressional and legislative maps just before their deadline of Monday by midnight.
Commissioners claim that it took a few extra hours to reconcile the written agreement into a map, and by then they were past the legal deadline.
Commissioner Joe Fain says he's very disappointed that their legislative map would break Chelan and Douglas counties into separate districts, but one of the east side districts was going to need to add about 60-thousand west side residents.
"About the split between the Chelan and Douglas County, I think that's a terrible error and clearly splits up a community of interest, but does so in service of the larger need to get a map that has the balanced populations the statute requires," said Fain.
Washington State must draw new legislative and congressional district maps every 10 years to reflect updated census data. All districts is every state must be roughly equally divided in population.
Commissioner April Sims also commented on the splitting of Chelan and Douglas counties into separate state legislative districts. She says they knew they had to have an east side district cross the Cascades somewhere, and the commission landed on the Highway 2 corridor because of other decisions on the map.
In response to criticism that the commission was meeting at times outside of the public eye, Sims says they didn't live up to the level of transparency the people deserved.
"It is my deep disappointment and regret that in the final hours we failed to live up to that high standard," said Sims. "I echo that I don't think any of us feel great about that. And I think just in the confusion, in the mad rush to try to meet our deadline, we did fail in that effort."
Although commissioners repeatedly said they thought the agreement they voted on was of sufficient detail to decide the maps, they did not outwardly dispute the state Supreme Court’s legal authority to decide the map after the deadline was passed.
The four voting members of Washington’s Redistricting Commission were two Democrats and two Republicans who were appointed by state legislative caucus leaders.
Commissioner Sims is a Democrat, who is a state labor-council leader. Commissioner Fain is a former Republican state legislator, as is Commissioner Paul Graves. Commissioner Brady Piñero Walkinshaw is a former Democratic state lawmakers.