Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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Tag: redistricting


Washington’s political map must be drawn in public

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

T o come up with something more partisan than Washington’s new voting districts, you’d have to splice together the platforms of the Republican and Democratic parties.

The boundaries of the state’s new legislative and congressional districts are precisely crafted to keep incumbents in office and look after the interests of the two big parties. The Washington State Redistricting Commission and its staff even calibrated the map to protect officeholders from prominent citizens who might run against them.

One problem. As Peter Callaghan reported in Sunday’s News Tribune, the whole process was a blatant and shameless assault on Washington’s open public meetings act.
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Dicks and Tacoma: A duo that belongs together

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Redraw the political map purely for the benefit of Pierce County, and you’d get a bizarre gerrymander in which four or five congressional districts somehow fan out from the Tacoma Dome.

The more members of Congress looking out for Pierce County’s interests, the better.

That, alas, can’t happen. The four-member redistricting commission now overhauling the state’s political boundaries must pay lip service to geography and is supposed to keep communities as intact to the extent possible. We trust the final plan will also keep a key relationship intact – the one between Tacoma and U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks.

The unspoken – but overriding – priority of nearly any redistricting effort is to protect incumbents and maximize partisan advantage. Washington’s commission is designed for political parity: Two of its members are appointed by Republicans, two by Democrats. Collectively, they’re tasked with drawing lines both parties can live with.

This is an exceedingly complex job, akin to solving an algebraic equation with way too many variables. There are all kinds of reasons to stretch the lines of a particular district one way or another. In fact, the addition of a new congressional district – Washington’s 10th – is forcing a wholesale readjustment of boundaries for both Congress and the Legislature.
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