Wednesday, July 26, 2017 This Week's Paper

Pierce County adjusts district boundaries

// Officials aim to evenly represent residents in county council

Pierce County is undergoing a process that aims to more accurately represent its citizens’ concerns, interests and issues in the County Council.

The Pierce County Districting Committee, appointed by the County Council, is in the process of adjusting the boundaries of seven council districts based on their population. The effort aims to more evenly represent each district and its residents at the county level.

The committee held its second public meeting May 24 in Fife to explain the process and hear public comment on the proposed boundary changes.

“These meetings will give citizens a rough idea of our plan,” said Seven Garrett, the project’s districting master.

Some residents expressed concerns about the impacts of this year’s changes. Spanaway resident Mary Ann Lincoln is concerned about the proposed boundaries of District 5, which includes South Tacoma, Midland, Parkland and Spanaway, and neighboring District 3, which include mostly unincorporated areas, Graham and Elk Plain. Lincoln noted a possible socio-economic disparity between District 5 and District 3.

“One seems to be really poor, and one seems to be really rich,” Lincoln said. “You might want to balance the districts a little more and keep that in mind.”

This year, most of the county’s boundaries will need major changes, Garrett said. Some of the most significant changes stem from population growth, he added. Land owned by the Puyallup Tribe of Indians will also be included in the redistricting for the first time this year. Tribal land will fall under District 2, which includes Puyallup, Fife, Northeast Tacoma and Edgewood.

The committee will host several more public forums in Pierce County, before adopting the final boundary changes next January.

When the district boundaries are finalized, the county auditor will assign voters to their new precinct based on its voter registration counts.

The precincts are created by combining census blocks that follow the new district boundaries. The county must finalize the new precinct boundaries by April 30, 2012.

County council, city council and school board districts are redrawn every 10 years to provide equal representation to all citizens based on district population size. Washington state's Legislative and Congressional district boundaries are redrawn every 10 years following the United States Census.

Local, state and federal governments are required to use the updated population data to adjust district boundaries. Equal population between districts helps to ensure equal representation.

Every 10 years the United States Census Bureau conducts a count of the United States population. Local, state and federal governments and businesses use this data to make decisions and provide services.