On a split and acrimonious vote, Pierce County Council members appointed a four-member committee Tuesday to oversee the county’s redistricting process.
They council appointed Republicans Mike Abernathy and Deryl McCarty and Democrats Ken Blair and Sam Ross to the panel, which will then pick a fifth member as its chair.
In making the appointments, the Republican-dominated council passed over two high profile Democrats – former County Executive John Ladenburg and former Tacoma Mayor Bill Baarsma.
They were approved by a 4-3 vote, with Council Chairman Roger Bush and members Joyce McDonald, Dick Muri and Dan Roach, all Republicans, voting yes. Stan Flemming, a Republican, joined the council’s two Democrats, Tim Farrell and Rick Talbert, in voting no.
Farrell cried foul after the vote, complaining that he turned his light on first to speak about the nominees and that Bush instead turned to Muri, who made a motion on the appointments.
The redistricting of council district lines – done every 10 years following the Census – generally carries political intrigue and sparks questions of fairness and grumbles of gerrymandering.
After the four Districting Commission members appointed by the County Council Tuesday agree on a fifth person to act as their chair, the committee will select a Districting Master, who will draw up a plan for approval by the committee.
You can read more about the process on the county’s redistricting web page.
A bit more about the four Redistricting Committee members appointed by the County Council Tuesday:
• Abernathy is a retired attorney who lives on the Key Peninsula.
• McCarty is an Air Force veteran who served on the committee 10 years ago. He lives on South Hill.
• Blair is a former Bethel School Board member who lives near Frederickson. He is a child support enforcement officer.
• Ross works in marketing and advocacy for UFCW Local 141. He lives in Lakewood.
They were among 10 nominees – five Republicans and five Democrats – nominated by their respective parties for work on the committee.
Christine Wilson of Puyallup was the fifth nominee in the Democrat group.
Dave Morrell, Matt Hamilton and Don Houghton were the other Republicans nominated by their party for consideration as committee members.