Clallam County takes next step in adjusting commissioner districts

PORT ANGELES — The next step in aligning Clallam County’s three commissioner districts to current populations is in place as local officials prepare to redraw new boundary lines based on 2020 Census figures.

Clallam County announced last week the awarding of a personal services agreement to the team of Don Corson and Gene Unger to support the Clallam County Redistricting Commission — the entity responsible for establishing new county commissioner districts based on census figures.

“I think we all sort of understand that the population shift has gone a little eastward; Sequim has grown more than the west side,” commission chair John Teichert said. “(But) I don’t think anything major will occur because of the redistricting effort.”

Teichert said the hiring of Corson and Unger, known collectively as the Districting Master, is “to assist from a technical standpoint, taking census material (and) applying it to the three districts of the county commissioners.”

Corson and Unger handled the 2010 Census redistricting process, Teichert noted.

“We feel really comfortable in their qualifications to do the effort for us,” he said in an April interview.

Delays

With government entities dealing with pandemic issues since March 2020, the release of national census population counts have been delayed.

Revised census numbers are expected to be provided to each state by mid-August, and counties will receive the 2020 Census information within 45 days after that.

That puts Clallam County about six months behind schedule, Teichert said.

“In 2010, everything was almost done by this time (of the year), he said.

Three to four months after the county receives the 2020 Census figures, the Districting Master will offer the commission three options, Teichert said.

A goal will be to generally keep the commission boundaries by north and south lines and attempt to not split precinct boundaries, if possible, he said.

The commission will then take those three options and present them for public scrutiny and comments in public hearings — sometime toward the end of October or early November, Teichert estimated — in Sequim, Port Angeles and the county’s West End before making a final recommendation based on guidelines established by the Clallam County Charter.

The charter, county officials note, requires the population of each district is within 5 percent of each other, based on the 2020 Census figures provided later this year.

Everything will be in place, Teichert said, by the time the next candidate filing date comes around in May 2022.

The five-member Redistrict Commission includes one person recommended by each of the county commissioners, along with one person representing the county’s major political parties.

Commission members include:

• Walter Livingston (District 1, Sequim).

• John Teichert (District 2, Port Angeles).

• Bradley Collins (District 3, West End.

• Beverly Hetrick-Oosterveld (Democratic Party).

• Jim McEntire (Republican Party.)

Get more Districting Commission meeting information at clallam.net/bocc/DistrictingCommission.html. Questions or comments can be directed to commission clerk Loni Gores at [email protected] or 360-417-2256.

Census

The U.S. Census Bureau announced in late April that the total population of the United States is 331,449,281 as the country grew at its second-slowest rate in history, at 7.4 percent (the slowest growth was between 1930-1940), the Seattle Times noted.

The population of Washington state grew to 7,705,281 from 6,724,540 in the decade between the 2010 census and the 2020 census.

The 14.6 percent increase is not enough for Washington to add to its 10 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Texas (two seats), Florida, Oregon, Colorado, Montana and North Carolina gained U.S. House seats, while seven states lost seats, including California for the first time.

Others to lose House seats included New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and West Virginia.

However, the increase in Washington state’s population contributed to the 9.2 percent growth in the West as that region and the South increased, and the eastern and northern portions of the nation lost population, the Seattle Times reported.

The state redistricting commission has until Nov. 15 to agree on new boundaries.

At least three of four members must agree to the maps.

The Legislature can make only minor changes to the commission maps, and the governor has no role.

For more about Census 2020, see census.gov.

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Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected]