County council appoints citizens to redraw districts

March 4, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

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King County Council members appointed a team of community leaders in January to update the map for representation in county government.

The council appointed four members Jan. 18 to the King County Districting Committee, the citizen committee responsible for redrawing council districts based on 2010 Census data. The county is carved into nine districts, each represented by a single council member.

John Jensen

“Redistricting is a challenging, time-consuming process that is vital to ensuring our residents are fairly represented,” Councilman Reagan Dunn said in a statement.

Dunn represents District 9 on the nine-member council. The district encompasses Newcastle, the rural area near Issaquah, Maple Valley and areas inside Bellevue and Renton. Districts could be shifted as the citizen committee starts to sift through population data.

The council appointed representatives from across the county to serve on the panel. The lineup includes John Jensen, president of Jensen Roofing Co. and a past member of the King County Charter Review Commission. Jensen, a Newcastle resident, has also served the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce as a longtime board member and past president.

The citizen panel selected retired Superior Court Judge Terrence Carroll as chairman Feb. 7.

Carroll is a respected arbitrator and a Distinguished Jurist in Residence at the Seattle University School of Law. He specializes in alternative dispute resolution, and has heard more than 3,000 mediations and 1,000 arbitrations in the past 20 years. He has also served as a deputy prosecutor, a public defender and a private-practice attorney.

Jensen said Carroll’s skills and background make him an ideal fit for the position.

“I feel like Terrence Carroll was made for this job,” he said. “His experience in arbitration, dispute resolution — along with his passion for public service — make him an excellent choice.”

The county charter grants the authority for adopting a final districting map to the citizen Districting Committee, not the County Council.

The committee then chooses a technical expert to serve as “districting master” and holds public meetings to gather community input. It will select its districting master March 18. The committee must complete the process and file the final districting plan by Jan. 15, 2012.

State law and the King County Charter require council district boundaries to be reset by using the most recent census data, which the committee first saw at the end of February.

The statutes require the edges of each district to meet the boundaries of existing municipalities, election precincts, census tracts, recognized natural boundaries, and communities of related and mutual interest as closely as possible.

Districts must also be drawn as contiguous areas and to be as nearly equal in population as possible. The population data may not be used to favor or disadvantage any racial group or political party.

Reporter Tim Pfarr contributed to this story.

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