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Seattle opens up applications for commission tasked with redrawing city’s council districts

KIRO Seattle logo KIRO Seattle 3/2/2021 Nick Bowman, MyNorthwest

The City of Seattle has officially opened up applications for a new commission that will be entrusted with redrawing the city’s seven council districts.

Seattle’s city charter requires it to develop new council district boundaries after each major census. Using data from the 2020 federal census, a commission comprised of five members will begin that work in 2021.

“A fair and equitable redistricting process is critical to upholding our democratic principles and government institutions,” Council President Lorena Gonzalez said in a written release. “Our electoral districts must accurately reflect our changing population and demographics, so our communities have fair and equal representation from their elected officials.”

Meet all of 2020′s Seattle City Councilmembers

Seattle first divided out seven geographically-based council districts in 2013. That replaced the previous system, which had all nine councilmembers serving as “at-large” representatives. Under the system approved as part of a charter amendment in 2013, just two councilmembers now serve in an at-large capacity.

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In drawing new districts, there will be a handful of requirements the commission must adhere to, including:

  • Producing “compact and contiguous districts that are not gerrymandered”
  • Making it so that the population of the largest district does not exceed the smallest district by more than 1%
  • Following boundaries for existing districts, waterways, and neighborhoods “when practical”

Elected officials, registered lobbyists, candidates for elected office, and city employees are not permitted to serve on the redistricting commission. Two commissioners will be approved by the city council by a two-thirds vote, another two will be appointed by the mayor, and the final one will be appointed by the initial four members of the commission through a majority vote.

The commission will be expected to publicly release its proposal for council districts within eight months of receiving census data. That will be followed by a public comment period, and then a final approval vote from the commission.

Applications to serve on the commission are open through 11:59 p.m. on Monday, March 29. Members will be confirmed in May. You can submit your application at this link.

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