Mayor Jenny Durkan and the Seattle City Council have announced four of five community members to serve on the first-ever Seattle Redistricting Commission, which will redraw council district lines according to 2020 U.S. census data.
The most recent census data shows that the city’s seven council districts have grown rapidly, up from roughly 88,000 people per district at their inception in 2013 to anywhere from 98,300 to 123,900 in 2020.
Redistricting happens once every 10 years after a new census is completed, in order to offset disproportionate growth, creating approximately even districts.
Durkan on Thursday announced the appointment of Neelima Shah, a senior program officer with the Bullitt Foundation. Durkan’s other appointee is former Mayor Greg Nickels, finalizing the council and mayor’s four picks.
“Seattle remains one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation, and the impact of COVID-19 has underscored the need for our districting process to ensure critically needed resources are allocated equitably across our city,” Durkan said in a news release. “I am pleased to appoint two absolute pillars of the community to serve on the Seattle Redistricting Commission, Neelima Shah and Former Mayor Greg Nickels.”
“Fair and accurate representation is the cornerstone of our democracy. When elected officials choose their voters — instead of voters choosing their representatives — we cease to be a society that is responsive to the needs of its people,” council President M. Lorena González said in the release. “I’m proud of the equitable, transparent and community-based redistricting process that Seattle is undertaking. It will be the first time city council districts are redrawn in our city’s history.”
In addition to the mayor’s appointees, the City Council appointed Group Health Foundation public policy manager Eliseo Juárez and administrative law Judge Rory O’Sullivan to the commission in June
A fifth member will be appointed to the commission by the current four members.
The redistricting will be the first ever in Seattle, after a 2013 charter amendment was approved by voters to establish seven council districts and two at-large council positions.
The commission is set to provide a draft of the new map by Nov. 15. All of the commission’s meetings will be open to the public.
The first meeting is set for noon-1:30 p.m. on Oct. 13 and will be held virtually at https://seattle.webex.com/seattle/j.php?MTID=mbaa607e36b5f148a3abd5504cef2e5ee.
Meanwhile, the King County Districting Committee shared three alternative maps for the Metropolitan King County Council districts, which can be viewed at www.kingcounty.gov/districting.
The districting committee will host four virtual town hall meetings to collect public input on the proposed maps before voting on a final draft. A public hearing for the final draft is set for Nov. 30.
Input town hall meetings will be held at 2 p.m. on Oct. 17, 19, and 20 and at 7 p.m. on Oct. 21.