Two plans compete for approval for new County Council districts
The public is invited to offer opinions about the separate proposals, which split along partisan lines.
So, they're hoping the general public can help decide between each camp's preference. Anyone's invited to attend the meeting at the county campus at 5 p.m. Tuesday to offer opinions on two alternative maps.
The Republicans' favored plan offers fewer changes to the five County Council districts' current boundaries. The Democrats, meanwhile, back a more dramatic departure that would reshape the northwestern part of the county's political landscape by putting the Tulalip area and Stanwood in the heavily Democratic district that now includes Everett and Mukilteo.
Members of both parties said their favored plan represents a compromise. Each side also said they oppose the other plan because it would give the other party an unfair advantage in future elections. Despite the spirited debate, some of those involved insist a compromise might not be so far away.
"I don't think we're at a stalemate," said Bob Chapman, one of the two Democrats on the bipartisan committee.
In the end, Chapman said, he wants the group's decisions to be "clear, logical and straightforward."
Republican appointees Larry Stickney and Jim Donner, however, remained wary of the Democrats' preferred map.
Stickney called it "worthy of a little more study" while Donner said, "It gives them" -- Democrats -- "a big advantage."
The county charter calls for redrawing County Council districts after each 10-year U.S. census. Two Democrats, two Republicans and a mutually appointed chairman, former Marysville Mayor Dennis Kendall, have been meeting weekly on the task since April. With the help of a mapping expert, they have readied two plans for public comment next week, though ideally they had hoped to show just one. On Aug. 16, the district must vote on a final plan to send to the County Council for approval. At that stage, four of the five committee members must agree.
Ideally, each County Council district should have slightly more than 142,000 people. Councilman Dave Gossett's turf covering the county's south-central suburbs, District 4, has about 153,000 people and needs to shrink the most. Councilman John Koster's area in the north county, District 1, also needs to trim from its 148,000 population. The other three areas need to grow, especially Councilman Brian Sullivan's District 2, which has about 133,000 people.
County Republicans prefer the first of the seven maps the committee has reviewed. In plan one, the biggest alteration would be moving Granite Falls from District 1, Koster's district, into District 5, the eastern area represented by Council Chairman Dave Somers. That plan also puts the Silver Lake area into District 2 along with the rest of Everett, removing it from District 4 to the south.
The group tries to keep incumbents and their challengers inside their current districts.
At Tuesday night's meeting, it also became clear that keeping other political figures in particular districts also was a consideration.
Among Republican Donner's objections to the Democratic-backed plan was that it would move state Rep. Mike Hope, R-Lake Stevens, to District 1 from District 5. Hope is running for county executive this year against incumbent Aaron Reardon, but council districts have no relevance in that race. After the meeting, Donner, a friend of Hope's, said Hope had no immediate plans to run for County Council if he doesn't succeed in unseating Reardon.
"It's always nice to stay with your home base," Donner said.
Hope also said he has no intention to run for the County Council; he wants to win the election for county executive.
Democratic appointee Greg Pratt said the plan his party supports offers a compromise because the new boundaries would exclude a potentially good contender for District 1 in 2013, when Koster can no longer run for the job because of term limits.
"There's probably a strong candidate there in (state Rep.) John McCoy," Pratt said.
Instead, that plan would put McCoy, a Democrat from Tulalip, in District 2, where his party already feels they have a solid incumbent with Sullivan, who faces GOP opponents Glen Sayes and Jason Mills this year.
Congressional and legislative district lines are undergoing revisions separately. Those are being handled by the Washington State Redistricting Commission.
Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming meetings about redrawing boundaries for Snohomish County Council districts:
•Aug. 9, 5 p.m. -- A public meeting to get feedback on the committee's preferred plans.
Aug. 16, at 6 p.m. -- The committee intends to vote on a plan.
All meetings are on the eighth floor of the Robert J. Drewel Building, 3000 Rockefeller Ave., Everett.
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