PIERCE COUNTY, WA — Tuesday, October 5, 2021, the Pierce County Redistricting Committee in its Zoom meeting chose it’s fifth and final member. The County Council began the process by selecting two members from each political party. Those members were Doug Richardson (R), Sharon Hanek (R), Justin Leighton (D), and Joy Stanford (D). After considering eight applicants, over two previous meetings, The Honorable Frank Cuthbertson won a majority of committee votes.
At this point, Cuthbertson was added to the Zoom meeting and the committee began to discuss timelines, budget and the RFP process that the county advertised for applicants for Districting Master (DM). The DM uses a Geographical Information System (GIS) with the 2020 Census data uploaded to draw the preliminary district lines.
The County Charter, State law and County Council together have time restraints on the committee. They have 30 days from tonight when the fifth member was added to hire the DM. The DM then has up to 60 days to draw the maps.
The County Charter also State RCW requires the entire process be completed by December 31, 2021. [Issue, the Census was late] The County Council provided a budget of $40,000 from which all expenses including county support staff and the DM contract can draw from.
The next meeting will be October 12, 2021 at 5:30 p.m. on Zoom. The link for the public to attend will be at this site on the agenda page. Previous meetings are recorded and available for those who wish to watch.
Some of the criteria for the new districts include
• Keeping communities intact as much as possible.
• Keeping the boundary lines clean so as not to appear that areas are gerrymandered.
• Balancing the population evenly between districts.
Often the population grows in pockets and by the time 10 years pass, the districts are completely out of balance in population, making this an important step to even out the burden placed on each Councilmember. The one burden not as easily handled is the distance a member needs to drive to reach their constituents in the more rural districts, particularly near Mt. Rainier, the Nisqually, Carbon River, and Key Peninsula areas.
As soon as there are some preliminary maps, the Post will be adding these links. It is likely to be at least 40 days before there are new map options to begin considering. The committee requested the County put out the RFP for 7 more days, up tot he next meeting, so if you are considering applying your skills for the DM, you might look for it where the County advertises.
Here are the current County Council District maps.
[Credit to Committee member Leighton for the updates.]