Had I heard what Pierce County Council Chairman Roger Bush had done? Had I heard the chairman was concerned that Republican incumbents were being drawn out of their districts and wanted changes made? Had I heard that he summoned the appointed Districting Committee master to go over the proposed districts?
No, I hadn’t heard about that. If true, it would be a problem because while the Pierce County Charter doesn’t use the word “Independent,” it is sort of assumed that the committee that redraws county council districts should be insulated from the politicians.
The committee isn’t non-partisan so much as it is bipartisan. There are two Republicans and two Democrats who then appoint a chair. And since it takes three votes to approve a plan (and four votes to amend maps presented by the appointed master) cooperation is required.
I left a message for Bush and called committee Chairwoman Karen Seinfeld. She wasn’t aware of any meetings between master Steven Garrett and Bush. The committee has had three public hearings and has heard about some concerns with early maps. In each case the committee asked Garrett to find solutions, which he has.
For example, an early draft split Summit and Waller. It also placed Steilacoom, Ketron Island and Anderson Island in a district with Gig Harbor when local leaders thought it fit better with Lakewood and University Place.
While Seinfeld said she isn’t focused on “incumbent protection,” the committee would entertain concerns by elected council members about how new districts effect them. But the proper setting is a public hearing. That’s where Councilmember Dick Muri appeared to talk about the Steilacoom issue.
I reached Garrett Friday afternoon to ask him about the rumored meeting with Bush. He said he wondered why it had taken me so long to call since he too had heard the rumors.
Only one thing. They aren’t true. Garrett said he doesn’t think he has ever met Roger Bush and certainly didn’t spend hours meeting with him about districting plans.
“If such a request came my way, I would decline,” Garrett said. “I’d be uncomfortable with it.” Council members “have a stake in the result, as does the public. They’re welcome to come to the hearings.” Read more »