PORT ANGELES — An appointed county board is reviewing four proposals to redraw the three Clallam County commissioner voting districts.
The changes would switch district affiliations for up to 2,985 residents under options intended to equalize populations for the Sequim, Port Angeles and Port Angeles-West End voting areas, the last two of which could continue moving farther east, toward Sequim.
A meeting is planned Monday, and public hearings are scheduled Tuesday and Thursday.
A county districting commission, which considers balancing population totals every decade to make adjustments for overall increases — a panel did so in 2011 — was appointed by county Commissioners Mark Ozias of Sequim, Randy Johnson of Port Angeles and Bill Peach of Beaver. Districting commissioners will make a final decision on districts’ boundaries by Dec. 13.
While Sequim has the highest population, Peach’s Port Angeles-West End District 3 would grow farther east into Port Angeles under two of the five options being considered by the commission.
Under those plans, Peach, a Republican, would see the infusion of 1,204 residents into the voter mix in time for the Nov. 8, 2022, general election. Johnson ran for office with no party preference, and Johnson’s predecessor, Mike Chapman of Port Angeles, was a Democrat who served four terms.
A third option the commission reviewed Nov. 8 keeps all precincts status quo, within the 5 percent threshold margin of population between the largest district, Sequim-area District 1, and the smallest, Port Angeles-area District 2, although barely — the gap is 4.9 percent. The 5 percent maximum is set in the county charter.
The districting commission members, who include county Republican Party representative Jim McEntire and county Democratic Party representative Beverly Hetrick-Oosterveld, reviewed three options at their Nov. 8 meeting.
They will review the two additional alternatives commission members received late last week at 1 p.m. Monday at a meeting viewable at “Boards and Committees Meetings” at clallam.net. The Zoom meeting ID is 875 561 7844 and pass code 12345.
Under those plans, District 3 would stay as is, without the addition of more Port Angeles-area precinct voters, and a shift of precincts from Sequim District 1 to District 2.
All five options will be reviewed at 6 p.m. in public hearings Tuesday and Thursday at clallam.net and via the same Zoom route.
The no-change alternative for the entire county would leave District 1, represented by Democrat Mark Ozias, with 28,132 residents and Johnson’s Port Angeles District 2 with 24,351. District 3 has 24,672 residents, topping District 2.
The two other options considered Nov. 8 include switching 1,204 residents to District 3 from Port Angeles Precinct 106, a glass-shaped area in the vicinity of Hurricane Ridge Road, Park Avenue and Peabody Creek in south Port Angeles.
They include shifting two Sequim precincts, Lost Mountain in both options and Riverside in one, boosting voter numbers in District 2, Johnson’s county commissioner’s seat, which is up for election in 2024.
Lost Mountain Precinct, a rectangular strip south of U.S. Highway 101 and west of Hooker Road, has 750 residents.
Riverside is a long, mound-shaped precinct east of and contiguous with Lost Mountain, its eastern border the Dungeness River. It has 1,031 residents.
In the new Option 4 districting commissioners received late last week that they will discuss Monday, Lost Mountain moves to District 2. In the new Option 5, both Lost Mountain and Riverside move to District 2.
Port Angeles 106 and its 1,204 residents stay in Port Angeles in both new options.
Districting Commissioner John Teichert would not discuss details of new alternatives until commission members consider them Monday.
All five options were put together on the basis of U.S. Census data by Clallam County residents Don Corson and Gene Unger under a consultant contract. The county’s population has increased from 71,509 in 2010 to 77,155 in 2020.
At the meeting Monday, Unger suggested he would keep Port Angeles 106 aligned with District 2 as an additional option for the commission to consider.
“You’re fine with people in the city of Port Angeles, and to move them in or out of [a] commissioner district could be a little more interesting to get people to really be comfortable with,” Unger said.
Districting Commissioners Walter Livingston and Teichert, McEntire and Hetrick-Ooosterveld attended the Nov. 8 meeting. Commissioner Brad Collins, a former Port Angeles City Council member, was absent.
Teichert said in an interview that the board intends to select the options it believes are most viable Monday and present them for the public hearings Tuesday and Thursday, which he said should not last more than an hour each.
At their meeting Nov. 8, commissioners frequently referred to Clallam County Charter Section 7.40.
“Districts shall be drawn in compliance with the following criteria which are listed in order of descending priority,” the charter says.
“Districts shall: be approximately equal in population so that the population of the largest does not exceed that of the smallest by more than 5 percent; have boundaries that run generally north-south; be geographically compact and continuous; and be composed of whole voting precincts to the maximum extent possible.”
Hetrick-Oosterveld suggested broader factors should be considered than were employed by Corson and Unger, including consideration of the county’s homeless population.
“Are we going to pay attention to what’s called communities of interest?” she said.
She asked if there were any discussions of sociological criteria other than those dealing with urban and rural characteristics of the population.
“None,” Corson responded.
“And I don’t think it’s appropriate that we do. These are geographic areas.
“It’s another point of view for us in terms of continuity,” he continued.
Jennie Peterson, Clallam County Democratic Party chair, said when the precincts shift, she does not expect too much upheaval except for individuals whose county commissioner district changes.
“Commissioner districts are expected to move east,” she said Friday.
“The West End could end up more Democratic. District 3 will very likely move further into Port Angeles. It if moves into Port Angeles a little more, [District 3] will pick up some more Democratic-leaning precincts.”
Peterson expects the 24th Legislative District, represented by three North Olympic Peninsula Democrats, including Chapman, will become more Republican in the statewide redistricting effort as the district’s boundaries move south.
Sue Forde, Clallam County Republican Party chair, said Friday she, too, expects District 3 to incorporate more Port Angeles residents.
“That definitely will continue to change the dynamic there,” Forde said.
Forde has announced her intention to run in 2022 against Chapman, who defeated her when she challenged him in 2020.
Peach said Friday there is “a good possibility” he will run for a third four-year term in 2022.
“I anticipate that, because of the population increase, the District 3 boundary is going to move eastward,” he said.
“That’s fine with me. I think it’s a good thing. I’ve won elections when they were countywide and district-wide.
“I’m happy to follow whatever the new rules are.”
The three options reviewed by the districting commission Nov. 8 and precinct maps are available at clallam.net. Go to “Districting Commission Meeting Agendas,” click “Agendas,” then click Nov. 8.
Go to votewa.gov to find out if your address is included in the proposed changes.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].