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With two incumbent Republicans placed outside their districts, could Pierce County districting Map D stand for “Democrat?”

Post by Peter Callaghan / The News Tribune on June 21, 2011 at 3:38 pm with 10 Comments »
June 21, 2011 4:43 pm

Well, I guess it could have been described that way this morning.

But not anymore.

After learning that incumbent Councilwoman Joyce McDonald was drawn out of her current 2nd District, the geographer hired to draw up the maps made a small change and put her back in.

“Easy fix,” wrote Steven Garrett this afternoon. “Puyallup just ‘annexed’ a very small piece of Summit-Waller.”

Until then, the latest map release last week by Garrett was causing a fair amount of angst on the Republican side. I noted in this morning’s column and in a blog post last week that the latest map presented to the Pierce County districting committee has drawn 7th Distict Councilman Stan Flemming out of his district. That happened when the city of University Place was put in with Lakewood in the 6th District.

2nd District Councilwoman Joyce McDonald (Pierce County photo)

While the plans are still in flux, if it ended up that way Flemming would be in the odd situation of representing – for three more years – a district he no longer lives in. And two council members, Flemming and Dick Muri, would both live in the new 6th.

This morning I got a call from McDonald who said that she too was a councilmember without a district. McDonald was in the 5th District which is now represented by Rick Talbert. She, like Flemming, could continue to serve until the next election. But for her, that would be 2012 while for Flemming it would be 2014.

McDonald was suspicious, given that two GOP incumbents were adversely impacted by Map D.

“That’s obviously what I would consider Democrat shenanigans,” McDonald said.

Depending exactly where she lived, the fix could be very easy or very hard. If she lived in an odd sliver of unincorporated county between Puyallup and the Midland area it would be easy. That area was left out of the Mid-County Community Plan because it is within Puyallup’s urban growth area and its service area but has so far not been subject to an annexation effort.

So the area containing about 1,500 people could be moved from the 5th to the 2nd without dividing a city or a recognized community planning area. And since there aren’t many people in that slice, it wouldn’t significantly change the population numbers of either district.

But if McDonald’s house is within the Waller planning area, a fix would require Garrett to move nearly 8,000 people from the 5th to the 2nd because the charter requires recognized communities be kept together. The committee also heard testimony that Summit and Waller be kept together which would increase the number of people in play to 16,000.

“It would be a whole new map,” Garrett said.

As it turned out, she isn’t in Waller and the fix was painless. Garrett said he didn’t even move all 1,500, just enough of them. While the committee will have to direct Garrett to make the change Wednesday, he will show them how it can be done.

So far the districting committee has not considered the residences of current council people even though it is essentially a partisan body with two Republicans and two Democrats appointed by the county council. There is no prohibition on the partisan members knowing where the incumbents live and Flemming testified against Map D last week.

Garrett said he did check addresses for incumbents even though he was directed not to consider such information. He did it though because “it causes controversy and angst” when incumbents are drawn out of their current districts. He said McDonald uses a P.O. Box so he did not have a location for her and said he learned she was outside the 2nd only when I called him.

None of this helps Flemming, however.

Here’s a link to the county redistricting page. Look at Map D and find the white area between Waller and Puyallup. The committee’s next meeting is Wednesday (June 22) at the Pierce County Annex, 2401 S. 35th St., Tacoma. It will meet in conference room D beginning at 7 p.m.

Leave a comment Comments → 10
  1. Tacomalover says:

    Incombent protection IS NOT part of the process. This deviation is pathetic and Council Members should but the heck out of the process!

  2. SPanaway1 says:

    I hope this isn’t a prelude to the very Republican Council deciding to take redistricting matters into their own hands. That would be TRULY pathetic. This map has been a result of caring participants from may communities asking for what works best for them. If that is somehow partisan, someone’s got tinted glasses.

  3. Tacomalover says:

    SPanaway it appears so. This process is NOW getting highjacked by incumbent protection, an issue that has not come up by anyone but the incumbents themselves.

    It should be noted that not one person has come forward to speak about this process in terms protecting person that serves them. Every single issue has been about the community or putting their communities back together after 2002.

    Ms. McDonald had no defenders in this process to protect her. Mr. Flemming had NO defenders in this process and the same goes for Muri, Bush, Talbert, Roach, Farrell. NO one has spoken for these people. The only ones that spoke for their own protection is themselves.

  4. SPanaway1 says:

    Hey McDonald on the council, ee-yi-ee-yi-o
    Here a Joyce, there a Joyce, everywhere a Joyce choice.

    Sorry, the sun’s out, I must be lightheaded.

  5. Tacoma_Bourne says:

    I think moving any line for the simple reason of incumbent protection opens the whole process up to litigation. It cannot be used as justification to do anything. Now, if Mr. Garrett was not on the record of saying that is the reason, then he could move the line for a whole host of reasons.

    Now it is impossible to move that line.

  6. theaveragecitizen says:

    wow! nobody moved any lines for Calvin Goings when his District #2 line was re-drawn a few years back. Instead, he sold his house and moved from what became a district 3 area, into district 2 that he represented. Furthermore… I lived in “Summit” for most of my life, and until the county started slapping signs on the side of the road saying now entering “Summit-Waller”, I had never ever ever heard the term Summit-Waller. There was the Waller area, obviously off the road itself, Summit, and Summit View. Pierce County government is already changing the names of our neighborhoods, and it looks like they’ll be drawing the district lines in pencil instead of crayon so people like McDonald and Absent Stan can keep their jobs.

  7. jimkingjr says:

    Redistricting inevitably divides some communities- this is the first time this has been made an absolute. The districting master and others are in for a rude awakening when the courts of this state remind them that equal size- one man one vote- is the overarching requirement.

  8. Tacomalover says:


    The county charter explicitly says keep communities together. It does not say bump a line to capture a incumbent! This process was on the right track in making sure that 95% of all issues raised regarding communities was resolved even if that meant small variance differences.

  9. olympicmtn says:

    Chairwoman Seinfeld, we suggest you please look at District 5 and 4 again.

    Anyone who has lived in this district for their entire life would know that West End and North End Tacoma are worlds apart when it comes to political persuasion. University Place and West Tacoma should be one area or separate it altogether and place it with Gig Harbor. The bridge issue was a major concern this district dealt with for years and we already have a working relationship. We built relationships with our colleagues from GH and University Place. Whatever the mindset, don’t confuse the UPS crowd in the North End with the West End UP Tacoma residents they are worlds apart in interest and politics. Signed. Lifelong Family Resident.

  10. Tacomalover says:

    Mr. Callahan,

    I hope that after you have been to a few meetings you realize this is not a Map ā€œDā€ for democrat. Ms. McDonald lives on the wrong side of the city of Puyallup lines. Every single map from A-D has had her out of it. This was because of the Summit Waller folks and the lines they have and the city of puyallup.

    O and of course a incumbent would want to stay in the district they are originally serving, they get paid 111,000 to be a County Council member, I doubt they would survive in the unemployment line with the other 10% of Pierce County

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