State redistricting maps will shuffle Mountlake Terrace and Edmonds

Washington State Redistricting Commission approved map of updated congressional districts.

Mountlake Terrace and Edmonds are likely to see some changes made to their current districts under the state’s redistricting plan for the next decade.

Using 2020 U.S. Census data, the Washington State Redistricting Commission was tasked with redrawing the boundaries of Washington’s 49 legislative and 10 congressional districts so as to create districts nearly equal in population. The boundaries of districts are updated every 10 years using the latest U.S. Census data to reflect how populations have changed.

Both cities will change congressional districts beginning next year and at the state level, Mountlake Terrace will be consolidated into one legislative district.

Mountlake Terrace, currently in the 2nd Congressional District, will become part of the redrawn 1st Congressional District. The new map has the compacted district straddling King and Snohomish Counties, primarily east of I-5, stretching from Redmond to Arlington. Due to population growth along the I-5 corridor, more rural portions of the district’s eastern side will be moved to the 8th Congressional District.

Map of the updated 1st Congressional District.

The 1st District has been represented by U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene since 2012. The 2nd District is represented by longtime U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen.

Moving forward, Mountlake Terrace will be contained within the 32nd Legislative District. It is currently divided between both the 1st and 32nd Districts. The redrawn district stretches north from Seattle to Lynnwood and also includes Woodway along with a portion of Edmonds.

Map of the updated 32nd Legislative District.

The 32nd District is represented by Sen. Jesse Salomon and Reps. Cindy Ryu and Lauren Davis.

Edmonds, currently in the 7th Congressional District, will be moved to the redrawn 2nd Congressional District. The new map adds Edmonds and removes Mountlake Terrace, in addition to extending the northern reaches of the district eastward to include the entirety of Whatcom and Skagit counties.

Map of the updated 2nd Congressional District.

The updated 7th District, represented in Congress by U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, will no longer extend north into Snohomish County.

At the state level, Edmonds will continue to remain divided between both the 21st and 32nd Legislative Districts. The 21st District is represented by Sen. Marko Liias and Reps. Lillian Ortiz-Self and Strom Peterson.

Map of the updated 21st Legislative District.

The state’s latest redistricting process has not been without some problems and controversy.

Last week, the Washington State Supreme Court gave unanimous approval to the congressional and legislative district boundary maps drawn up by the bipartisan state redistricting commission. In doing so, it declined to redraw the districts’ boundaries after the commission failed, by a matter of minutes, to reach a final agreement on the maps before its constitutional deadline at 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 15.

Chair Sarah Augustine sent a letter to Chief Justice Steven C. González of the Washington Supreme Court stating the commission was unable to approve a formal resolution adopting the redistricting plan by the deadline and was ceding responsibility for redistricting to the court. Submitted with the letter was a full redistricting plan consisting of a resolution signed by all four voting commissioners approving the plan along with maps and legal descriptions of the new congressional and legislative districts.

The sworn declaration also established that they failed by nearly 15 minutes to transmit that redistricting plan to the legislature by the statutory deadline.

The court determined, “After reviewing the submissions and considering the constitutional and statutory framework as a whole, we conclude it is not necessary for the court to assume responsibility for adoption of redistricting maps under the present circumstances.”

“By voting to approve congressional and legislative redistricting plans before the end of the day on Nov. 15, 2021, the commission complied with its obligation under,” the state’s constitution, “’to complete redistricting’ by that date” and therefore, “it substantially complied with the essential purpose to approve and transmit a plan to the legislature by that date.”

Because the commissioners had not failed to reach an agreement on the redistricting plan, the court concluded: “that the primary purpose of achieving a timely redistricting plan would be impeded, not advanced, by rejecting the commission’s completed work.”

Chief Justice González wrote, “Redistricting raises largely political questions best addressed in the first instance by commissioners appointed by the legislative caucuses where negotiation and compromise is necessary for agreement.”

The court’s order did not evaluate or provide an opinion on any requirements other than the deadline.

This week, the Washington Coalition for Open Government (WCOG) – a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization – announced it is suing Washington and its redistricting commission for violating the state’s Open Public Meetings Act. The lawsuit argues that at its final meeting, the commission engaged in secret negotiations during an online meeting that was not open to the public in order to draft and come to an agreement about proposed legislative and congressional district maps.

The suit also contends that commission members conducted a series of deadline votes on matters that observers were unable to see and then adjourned quickly without offering any explanations. It says the maps then approved should be voided due to the commissioners’ private actions and their inaction publicly.

“In the end, the commission failed to meet its deadline and to complete its work,” Mike Fancher, WCOG president, said in a statement. “That failure is a powerful reminder that bad process leads to bad outcomes.”

Fancher added that the coalition takes no position on the redistricting decisions made by the commission, and if the maps are voided then presumably the Washington Supreme Court would make its own decision on redistricting.

“Our concern is that the commissioners convened a regular business meeting then conducted business and took action in private, not on the public record. Our purpose is to ensure public participation and transparency, not redistricting or any redistricting outcome,” he said.

The redistricting commission’s complete report to the state Legislature, along with all of the district maps, can be viewed here.

Map of the Seattle metropolitan area’s updated legislative districts.

— By Nathan Blackwell

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