WA 2011 redistricting officially underway

WA 2011 redistricting officially underway

Secretary Reed introduces Redistricting Commission members (L to R) Tom Huff, Slade Gorton, Dean Foster and Tim Ceis.

Washington’s citizen-driven process of redrawing the state’s congressional and legislative district boundaries is officially launched — and you’re invited to watch and give your ideas.

The four voting members of the citizen Redistricting Commission — two Democrats and two Republicans — were sworn in Tuesday by state Supreme Court Chief Justice Barbara Madsen.  She exhorted  the panel to “operate with the best interests of the people of the great state.”

Secretary of State Sam Reed, whose office has housed the redistricting program for the past three years, presided over the swearing-in ceremonies and wished the commission smooth, bipartisan success as they take over the task of drawing the new maps. New districts will be used for the 2012 Primary and beyond.

The new U.S. Census, overseen by our former governor, Gary Locke, now the Commerce Secretary, says we have 6.7 million inhabitants and are one of the faster growing states in America. The state was awarded a new 10th congressional district.

The state and federal constitutions require that after each 10-year Census, the U.S. House seats are reallocated to the states based on population growth or loss relative to the other states. Then boundaries are redrawn so that each congressional and legislative district has equal population.

In 1983, Reed noted, lawmakers and the voters turned that politically thorny task over to a citizen panel, two from each party to reflect the views of the legislative party caucuses. The panel has the rest of the year to draw new maps, with votes of at least three of the four members required.  No further approval by the Legislature or governor will be needed.

The commissioners later met in the Senate Rules Room for their first organizational meeting. They briefly discussed appointing a fifth, non-voting member to serve as chair, but did not refer to specific names. All four commissioners praised the citizen commission process as possibly the best in the country, and all predicted good bipartisan cooperation and success.

Good background here .

The commissioners are Republicans Slade Gorton, the former House majority leader, attorney general and three-term U.S. senator, and Tom Huff, the former state House budget chairman; and Democrats Tim Ceis, the former deputy Seattle mayor and former gubernatorial aide, and Dean Foster, the former chief administrator for the state House and chief of staff to Gov. Booth Gardner.

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