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Redistricting panel picks chair, girds for task ahead

by David Ammons | January 28th, 2011

The Washington State Redistricting Commission is at full strength after unanimously choosing Lura Powell of Richland as their fifth, nonvoting, member and chairwoman.  She was immediately sworn in by Secretary of State Sam Reed.

Dr. Powell is well known in scientific and biotechnology circles, and describes herself as nonpartisan or bipartisan.  Her selection was made by the two Democratic and two Republican commissioners who were previously appointed by the four political caucus leaders in Olympia.

Powell is former director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.  She also was a high-ranking administrator with the U.S. Department of Commerce, where she founded and built the biotechnology division. She is now chair of the Board of Trustees for the Washington State Life Sciences Discovery Fund, a $350 million program that finances life sciences research.

The commission lauded her strong leadership skills and said she will be an ideal chairperson as the panel spends the rest of the year redrawing Washington’s congressional districts, including a newly awarded 10th district, and the 49 legislative districts to reflect population growth and shifts over the past decade. The process will start in earnest in April when detailed Census data is received.

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