The lack of voter interest comes as somewhat of a surprise as at least two sitting county council members will be at risk of losing their positions under the new district boundaries.
Further complicating matters, Council Chair Eileen Quiring O’Brien, who represents new District 5, is resigning by the end of February. Her appointed successor will be required to reside in that district.
The process to create a redistricting committee and update the voting district map has been fraught with problems and complications since the beginning. Under state law, the county was required to update the district boundaries following the 2020 Census. A charter amendment passed by voters in November to increase the number of voting districts from four to five added another layer of urgency.
To select the redistricting committee members, according to the county charter, the council appoints “two from each major political party from a list of five submitted by the party’s central committee.” A fifth member is selected by the four members appointed to the committee to serve as chair.
However, the charter doesn’t specify how those nominees should be selected by each political party, nor what should happen if the county council doesn’t agree with either party’s choices.
After the Clark County Republican Party executive board selected five names and sent them to the council, the county council rejected the names. Rather than party’s leadership selecting the names, Quiring O’Brien told CCRP Chair Joel Mattila, the decision should be made by the 200-plus precinct members. A second list of nominees was also rejected before a third list was finally approved. That decision raised a few eyebrows and objections.
“I don’t know that it’s our role to get into how they operate their party business,” Councilor Julie Olson, also a Republican, said during a July 14 meeting.
That hasn’t been the only stumbling block in creating the new boundary map.
The redistricting committee began meeting in October but — after two months of discussions, negotiations and adjustments — could not reach the two-thirds majority vote needed to bring a map forward to the council for approval. The two Republican members favored proposed map A2, while the two Democratic members favored proposed map B2.
Kimsey also favored map B2, which he said was most closely aligned with the draft five-district map approved by voters in November.
In December, the redistricting committee passed the decision back to the county council. But just a few weeks later, the county council voted 3-2 to have the redistricting committee reconvene and “finish the work it started.”
“The charter makes it really clear about how many maps should be submitted, and it’s one,” Olson said during the council’s Jan. 18 meeting. “One by the redistricting master to the committee, and then the committee shall adopt a map.”
Olson, Gary Medvigy and Temple Lentz voted in favor, while Karen Bowerman and Quiring O’Brien were opposed.
That decision came the same day a lawsuit was filed against the county by Democratic redistricting committee member Janet Landesberg. She is seeking to have a judge further define the county charter and limit the county council’s changes to any district map by no more than 2 percent — and only if it could muster a two-thirds majority vote to do so.
For meeting information, go to https://clark.wa.gov and select “Calendar.”
Article Source: The Columbian