Redistricting Commission to hold public forum

The state will gain another seat in Congress, requiring the formation of a 10th Congressional District.

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WALLA WALLA -- A commission laying the groundwork to redraw the state's legislative districts will be in town Wednesday.

The Washington State Redistricting Commission will meet at Walla Walla Community College to take comments about what factors should be considered in redrawing the state's congressional and legislative boundaries. The meeting will be held in room 185 of the college's conference center at 500 Tausick Way.

The forum will begin at 6 p.m. with an open house. It will be followed at 6:30 p.m. with introductions of the commission members and an overview of the redistricting process. The meeting will be opened for public comment at 7 p.m. followed by a summary.

Public input is critical this year because Washington will gain another seat in Congress, requiring the formation of a 10th Congressional District, said Cathy Cochrane, the commission's communications director.

The commission has the rest of this year to set the new lines for the 10 congressional and 49 legislative districts.

The Constitution requires all states evaluate electoral district boundaries every 10 years following the U.S. Census. The redistricting commission was established by Washington state voters in 1983 to ensure district boundaries are redrawn through a fair and bipartisan process.

The commission is composed of two Democrats and two Republicans as voting members and a non-voting, nonpartisan chair. Current members are Chairwoman Lura Powell, former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton as the Senate Republican appointee, Tim Ceis as the Senate Democratic Party appointee, Dean Foster as the House Democratic Party appointee and Tom Huff as the House Republican appointee.

Cochrane said people unable to travel to Wednesday's forum can take part via an interactive webcast by clicking on the "Get Involved" section at the top of the redistricting commission's website.

The interactive forum will begin at 6:30 p.m. and all webcast comments will be kept for the record and provided to the commissioners for their consideration.

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