Clallam panel maps plan for new boundaries

The Clallam County Districting Commission has mapped out a plan for re-drawing the boundaries of the three commissioner districts before the end of this year.

The five-member commission will host a public presentation on its charter-mandated process Sept. 22 and is expected to adopt new district boundaries Dec. 13.

“This effort is purely numbers,” Districting Commission chairman John Teichert said in an Aug. 30 meeting.

The north-south boundaries of the county commissioner districts are re-drawn every 10 years based on census data to balance the population of each district. They do not affect state or federal voting districts.

“A lot of people don’t understand what a little piece of the pie we actually get to do,” Districting Commissioner Beverly Hetrick-Oosterveld said in the meeting. “We don’t do the legislative and congressional districts.”

The public presentation will be at 10 a.m. Sept. 22 in Room 160 at the Clallam County Courthouse, 223 E. Fourth St., Port Angeles.

It can be viewed at clallam.net/features/meetings.html.

Districting Masters Don Corson and Gene Unger, whom the Districting Commission hired in May for the technical work, will prepare a series of options for the new boundaries based on U.S. Census data.

The population of the largest district cannot exceed the population of the smallest district by more than 5 percent, and voting precincts must remain within the same district to the maximum extent possible, according to the county charter.

U.S. Census data was delayed this year because of COVID-19, officials have said.

Corson and Unger also served as districting masters in 2011.

“If they just replicate what they did 10 years ago agenda-wise, content-wise, that seemed to go just fine back then,” Districting Commissioner Jim McEntire said.

“Don’t mess with success.”

The district boundaries shifted to the east in 2001 and 2011 because of population growth in the Sequim area.

The current boundary between east county commissioner District 1 and central county District 2 runs along Boyce Road in Carlsborg.

The border between west county District 3 and District 2 runs along Valley Creek in central Port Angeles.

“The trickiest one is the West End,” Districting Commissioner Brad Collins said.

“(District 3) is a substantial chunk of Port Angeles.

“The city of Forks definitely doesn’t think like the city of Port Angeles,” Collins added.

The Districting Commission will review the options prepared by the districting masters in an Oct. 25 work session.

It will meet again Nov. 1 or Nov. 8 to select three options to be presented in public meetings in Port Angeles, Sequim and Forks on the week of Nov. 15.

Meetings are tentatively scheduled for 6 p.m. Nov. 15, Nov. 16 and Nov. 17 at locations to be determined in Port Angeles, Sequim and Forks.

The Districting Commission will discuss a final option for the new boundaries in a Dec. 6 work session.

A final public meeting to announce the selection of the boundaries will be conducted at the Clallam County Courthouse on Dec. 13.

In other discussion, on Aug. 30, the Districting Commission voted 5-0 to ask Prosecuting Attorney Mark Nichols for a written opinion on whether it should use census data released by the federal government or state government.

State-adjusted census data accounts for the original residences of people who were incarcerated in prisons like Clallam Bay Corrections Center as of April 1, 2020.

“That’s the data that is most usable, and that won’t be in until the latter part of September,” Teichert said of the state numbers.

For information on the state’s redistricting process, see redistricting.wa.gov.

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