The Washington redistricting commission’s failure to meet its deadline wasn’t necessarily a surprise for state Rep. Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver, who represents the 49th District.
“I think it’s gotten really hard for bipartisan agreements on anything to get done,” she said.
The process now heads to the state Supreme Court, which is expected to have the maps ready next spring.
Like many, Wylie said she, too, was waiting for the commission to produce the new maps. The state lawmaker said she hopes the court won’t divide communities or make large changes to existing districts. Although she said she wasn’t especially worried about her district, she was concerned about others in the state.
“Legislators develop relationships with the communities that elect you. Having to lose part of those communities and establish new relationships, when we have so many challenges and it’s so hard to get out … it’s going to be sad if that happens,” she said.
Despite the recent failure, Wylie said she still believes the state’s process works.
“I’ve not always been happy with the results, but I’ve always felt that our system worked better than in a lot of other states and was more fair,” Wylie said. “I have a lot of confidence in our court. The underlying law urges us to try to follow reasonable boundaries, whether it’s municipal, school district or geographical.”
Rep. Larry Hoff, R-Vancouver, said having the maps drawn by the state Supreme Court rather than the commission or even the Legislature, as happens in other states, is all part of the state’s process.
“It’s a process … whether or not we were able to get the job done by Nov. 15, it’s just the first stage,” Hoff said.
While the legislator wasn’t sure if partisanship had any part in the commission’s outcome, he did note its impact on government overall.
“It’s tough to eliminate (partisanship) completely. Sometimes that gets in the way of a good product and maybe it did this time, too,” he said.
Hoff said he has been paying close attention to how the proposed legislative district maps would have affected his 18th District.
“I’ve looked at the four maps that were proposed and one of them writes my house out of the 18th District. It changes the district significantly in all of the maps,” he said.
No matter what the maps eventually look like, he said he’s ready to move forward with any changes.
“I’m resigned to accept whatever the commission and/or courts develop,” Hoff said. “If, indeed, that means I’m no longer in the 18th District, then I will have a decision to make. If it means the district changes dramatically, then I have to make sure I understand the boundaries and work hard at addressing my new constituents.”
Hoff, who spent most of the day Tuesday in a caucus meeting, said he hadn’t yet learned why the commission couldn’t reach agreement. Regardless of the reason, he said, it’s time to focus on the work ahead.
“Now, it’s let the process continue and see where it goes. I’m excited to see the process work,” he said.