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Drawing lines: Eastern Washington to see redistricting

by CHARLES H. FEATHERSTONE
Staff Writer | October 1, 2021 1:07 AM

MOSES LAKE — Big changes are potentially in store for the Columbia Basin as the four voting members of the Washington State Redistricting Commission have released their draft maps redrawing the state’s legislative boundaries.

In all four proposed maps — from Democrats April Sims and Brady Piñero Walkinshaw and Republicans Paul Graves and Joe Fain — the 13th Legislative District changes significantly, with adjustments varying from stretching the 13th Legislative District all the way to King County in Graves’ proposal to shrinking the district and centering it on Kittitas and Yakima counties and divvying up Grant County among three separate districts — the 12th, 15th and 9th — as proposed by Walkinshaw.

“This is the beginning, just know that,” said Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake. “But there could be some real major changes.”

Warnick said the changes were necessary because the huge population increase in the Puget Sound area will force the state to rebalance how the state’s districts are drawn.

“There are so many people on the west side, it’s going to be difficult to balance the numbers and create competitive districts,” she said.

Even with the growth in the region over the last 10 years, Warnick said the 13th Legislative District must add 6,500 more people.

“That’s a challenge,” she said.

In the maps proposed by Walkinshaw and Graves, Moses Lake is moved to the 9th Legislative District, and Warnick noted on Graves’ map, the boundary appears to be drawn specifically to include her family’s property south of Interstate 90 in the 13th Legislative District.

“I’m pretty adamant that Moses Lake stay in the district,” said Rep. Tom Dent, R-Moses Lake.

“Some of this is not going to work,” Warnick said.

According to Jamie Nixon, a spokesperson for the redistricting commission, over the next two weeks, commissioners will give comments and suggestions to allow them to draft a final map, which must be approved by three of the four commissioners.

The final map must be ready by Nov. 15, after which the state legislature has the ability to amend it by a two-thirds vote if it chooses. The new boundaries will become law in mid-December if unchanged by the legislature, Nixon said.

The new boundaries would then come into effect in the 2022 election.

If the commission does not approve a final legislative district map by Nov. 15, by law, Nixon said the state Supreme Court will draw the legislative districts — something that has not yet come to pass.

“We’re hopeful this will allow negotiation and debate to guide what the people of the state want,” he said.

The process was rushed this year because the U.S. Census Bureau was late in getting the data to the state, Nixon said.

“We normally have data on April 1, but we got it on Aug. 12,” Nixon said.

Warnick said state legislative districts also need to reflect communities of interest, so the 13th Legislative District should be very rural and very agricultural. Which is why she is disappointed that in three of the proposals, Lincoln County is no longer part of the 13th Legislative District.

Warnick said she and Dent are working with Rep. Alex Ybarra, R-Quincy, on their own map to retain the district’s rural character and add the needed population.

“We’re putting together what we think would work as a map,” Dent said. “We want to keep the district intact. But we will lose something, and we will gain something.”

“We’re counting on him,” Warnick said of Ybarra. “We would like to stay representing the 13th District and not represent King County. How we get that accomplished, I don’t know.”

Ybarra could not be reached for comment.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at cfeatherstone@columbiabasinherald.com.

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Washington State Redistricting Commission

The 13th Legislative District map as it currently stands.

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Washington State Redistricting Commission

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Washington State Redistricting Commission

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Washington State Redistricting Commission

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Washington State Redistricting Commission