|Redistricting plan could help put people of color in Congress|
“They’ve drawn a district that would be 51 percent people of color,” said Bonnie Bunning, Executive Director of the Washington State Redistricting Commission. “There’s a concentration of immigrants and people of color and minorities in the South Seattle area and they think that it’s only fair that they have someone elected that represents their district.”
The proposed new 10th Congressional district would extend south from Seattle’s SODO neighborhood as far as Federal Way and east as far as Newcastle. While it encompasses urban areas that are overwhelmingly liberal, it also includes more moderate cities such as Kent and Auburn. It is one among a number of proposals for a new district that will account for population increases reflected by the latest census data.
“The increase in population has largely come from communities of color and without this growth in communities of color we probably would not have received the 10th Congressional in the first place,” said George Cheung, executive director of the Win/Win Network, a collaboration of non-partisan nonprofit’s in Washington state that contributed to the plan. “Given that people of color are 1 out 4 of all residents in Washington state, I think it’s high time that we have better representation.”
But, should their redistricting plan be reflected in the commission’s final decision, it does not necessarily ensure a minority will be elected.
“It’s probably never safe to assume that everybody with a particular characteristic are going to vote the same way,” Bunning said. “But I think you might assume that it would increase your chances of getting someone who is of your community and understands your issues.”
Cheung said they don’t necessarily expect the district to result in a person of color going to Congress. They do, however, expect better representation for the minority population in South King County.
“Whether or not these lines will ultimately lead to a person of color being elected is secondary to us,” Cheung said. “Obviously having a representative in Congress reflect who actually lives in the state is really important, but we believe that having someone who is really accountable and a champion of our issues is more important.”
The coalition has also proposed revamping five legislative districts that would be a “majority minority.” Three of those districts would be in King County while the other two would fall in Pierce and Yakima counties.
The redistricting commission is expected to present their official drafts by mid-September.
Brandi Kruse, 97.3 KIRO FM Reporter
For more information and to sign the petition go to: http://fairrepresentationwa.org/