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The Joint Legislative Redistricting brochure The 1990s
Major Years:1991; Major Players:Redistricting Commission

The independent redistricting commission met for the first time in 1991. As outlined by Senate Joint Resolution 103, legislative leaders chose the commission's four voting members: Democrats Mary Kay Becker of Bellingham and Shelly Yapp, Seattle, and Republicans Bill Polk and Veda Jellen. Commissioners then selected one non-voting chairperson, Graham Fernald.

The commission faced a difficult task. It was clear that Seattle and Eastern Washington would each lose one district to the suburban areas of King and Snohomish Counties, where population growth far outstripped the rest of the state. Hard choices had to be made, and the commissioners spent weeks hearing testimony. There was a great deal of bitter debate and struggle, reminiscent of the Legislature's past experiences. The commission finally decided on a redistricting plan just forty-four minutes before their January 1st deadline.

In the end, the 1991 redistricting plan did, indeed, eliminate incumbents from Seattle and Spokane. But commissioners knew this sacrifice was necessary to reapportion the state fairly and meet its constitutional mandates. Despite the tensions that marked its deliberations, the commission conducted a redistricting process that was much less divisive and disruptive than past efforts.


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