Starting next year, Washington will have a new, 10th Congressional District centered in Olympia and incorporating much of South Puget Sound.
On Wednesday, two members of the bipartisan State Redistricting Commission unveiled new boundaries for all of Washington’s districts.
One of the biggest changes comes to the 9th Congressional District, which currently goes from Renton down to Thurston County. The District is now held by Democrat Adam Smith. The new 9th represents only a small piece of Pierce County, but extends upwards into parts of Seattle. The effect is that the new 9th will be the state’s first district where over 50 percent of residents are minorities.
“This will really give an opportunity for communities of color to be excited and become civically engaged in the electoral process and elect a leader who will be accountable to community issues such as health and income and wealth disparity,” said Cherry Cayabyab, executive director of the Asian Pacific Islander Community Leadership Foundation.
The other big change is the 1st Congressional District. This seat is now held by Democrat Jay Inslee, who is giving up his seat to run for governor. Instead of being centered in the population areas of Lynnwood, Edmonds and Shoreline, the commission has taken those cities out and given the 1st District a large rural area that was formerly part of the 2nd.
“Our biggest challenge was the 1st District,” said Tim Ceis, a Democratic member of the Redistricting Commission. “We decided that’s where we would try to meet both objectives of having a competitive open seat.”
“It may easily be the most evenly divided congressional district in the entire United States of America,” said Republican commission member and former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton.
Under the plan, five districts will be comfortably Democratic, four will be comfortably Republican, and one -- the 1st – will be a toss-up.
All incumbents will remain in the districts they now represent.
The commission has until midnight Dec. 31 to formally adopt the new plan.