This morning, after three months of public hearings followed by one month of secluded deliberation, each of four members of the bipartisan Washington State Redistricting Commission presented their proposed maps outlining new congressional and legislative districts for next year at a special commissioner's meeting in Olympia. The commission is composed of two Democrat appointees-- former Seattle Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis and former Chief Clerk (of the House of Representatives) Dean Foster, and two Republican appointees-- former Senator Slade Gorton and former state rep Tom Huff.

All four maps sought to address the top issues in this year's redistricting process - where to locate the new 10th congressional district, equalizing the population imbalance between eastern and western Washington, and equitably allocating representation to communities of color, all the while preserving geographic lines and incumbency as best as possible.

Here are the highlights:

-- Location of the new 10th Congressional District: There was considerable variation in where commissioners located the new 10th congressional district, a gain brought on by Washington's population increase of almost a million people in the last decade. Dean Foster placed the 10th Congressional District on the Pacific Coast, while Tim Ceis located it in the crook of Puget Sound, in the Pierce County area.

Tom Huff located the 10th Congressional District in south King County as a majority-minority district, his being the only map to do so. Lastly, Slade Gorton placed the 10th Congressional District in northwestern Washington along the border of Canada, reasoning that due to the slow population growth in western Washington, the new congressional district should not be located in a metropolitan area.

-- A cross-Cascades district: An extra 150,000 people in eastern Washington congressional districts necessitates that one western Washington district would have to stretch across the Cascades and take in a portion of eastern Washington. Ceis, Foster, and Huff all opted to join east and west in the 8th congressional district, which runs along the I-90 corridor. Ceis pointed to the characteristics of a "community of interest" in the regional commerce, as defined by the similar agricultural economy, natural resources, and media access of that area.

Slade Gorton had a different take - his proposed northern Congressional district also serves to resolve the east-west population imbalance. Again, Gorton emphasized keeping the district rural in accord with population trends.

-- The question of majority-minority districts: The efforts of United for Fair Representation, a coalition of community organizations advocating for majority-minority districts had a clear impact, as most of the maps contained at least one majority-minority district. As mentioned, Republican commissioner Huff was the only one to directly meet the demand of United for Fair Representation to allocate the new 10th congressional district to south King County, where communities of color compose around 60% of the population. He cited that it was the "will of the people," an acknowledgment of the UFR's intensive organizing efforts.

In shuffling around congressional lines, Tim Ceis addressed the issue of minority representation by designating the 9th congressional district as the majority-minority district, citing various socioeconomic disparities which combine to make the residents of south King County a viable community of interest. Slade Gorton, who also proposed renumbering all of the congressional districts, located the 1rst congressional district (to be also in the south King County region) to be a majority-minority district. He also designated the 15th legislative district in eastern Washington as a majority-minority Hispanic district.

As expected, there were various snips and shifts to the states' 49 legislative district as well, but the majority of them retained current populations and preserved the intactness of city and county lines.

Maps will be online at 2 AM on the commission's website.
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