Redistricting commission finishes its work

Portion of Clark County shifted to 14th Legislative District

By Craig Brown, Columbian Metro Editor



Washington’s Redistricting Commission pushed a do-or-die deadline to the brink Sunday evening before reaching consensus on Eastern Washington legislative districts, including one that would affect Clark County.

With state law requiring the commission to finish its work no later than Jan. 1, the commission accomplished its work at 9:55 p.m. Should the bipartisan commission have failed in its duties, the state Supreme Court would have been asked to complete the task. Commissioners — two Republicans, two Democrats and a nonvoting chairman — met sporadically in public Sunday before formally voting to approve all plans.

The commission had already settled congressional and Western Washington legislative district boundaries, leaving Eastern Washington as the weekend’s subject of contention.

At issue for Southwest Washington was the portion of Clark County that lies in the 15th Legislative District.

The commission moved that area into the 14th Legislative District, and contracted its boundaries.

The area in question is a rural portion of Clark County adjoining Skamania County north of the city of Washougal and currently running from the north boundary of Clark County south along Cedar Creek, the L-1000 Road, Blair Road and Southeast 34th Street.

The new boundaries show the 14th Legislative District including much of Yakima County, all of Klickitat and Skamania counties, and that portion of Clark County north and east of the Washougal and Little Washougal rivers and south of the East Fork of the Lewis River, including Bear Prairie.

The incumbent 14th District legislators and their committee assignments are:

• Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima: Transportation; Labor, Commerce and Consumer Protection; Early Learning and K-12 Education; Rules

• Rep. Charles Ross, R-Naches, minority floor leader: Ways and Means; Public Safety & Preparedness.

• Rep. Norm Johnson, R-Yakima: Health & Human Services Appropriations & Oversight; Early Learning and Human Services; Rules; Transportation.

The current 15th District delegation is also from the Yakima Valley.

Most of Clark County’s population resides in the 17th, 18th or 49th Legislative districts. Last month, the Redistricting Commission issued a plan to move the 18th District boundary south from Cowlitz County into Clark County. A strip of land near the North Fork of the Lewis River will fall into the 20th Legislative District, a geographically large district that now includes chunks of Clark, Cowlitz, Lewis and Thurston counties.

Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, was affected by the reduced geographic size of the 18th District. He said recently that he intends to keep his home and run for election in the 20th District, rather than move south into the revised 18th District.

The commission also previously released a plan for congressional districts. Washington’s new 10th Congressional District was placed in the Olympia area, while the 3rd Congressional District boundary was adjusted south and east into Klickitat County. It continues to include all of Clark County. Observers said the change will make the 3rd more reliably Republican, reducing its reputation as a “swing” district. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, is the incumbent.

The redistricting process was triggered by the 2010 U.S. Census. By law, legislative and congressional districts must be equally populous.