The commission charged with redrawing district lines in Washington based on 2010 census results picked Lura Powell of Richland to serve as its chairwoman today.
Powell’s selection as a fifth, non-voting member of the commission is part of the process of adding a tenth Congressional district in the state and making sure all districts have equal population.
The commission process was created by a 1983 constitutional amendment, which took redistricting power away from the Legislature. Every ten years, the Washington Redistricting Commission is appointed by the Legislature to redraw district lines according to census data.
This year, Washington was awarded a new Congressional district because of population growth.
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Powell said she had seen redistricting play out in other states before, and she was glad to serve on the commission because Washington’s redistricting process was less political and less prone to gerrymandering than that of many other states.
“I look at this as a very interesting way to serve our state,” Powell said. “I really think it’s an excellent system.”
Powell currently chairs the board of trustees for the Life Sciences Fund, a state agency that awards medical research grants. Before, she worked at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Maryland and ran a medical technology company in Richland. She has lived in Washington since 2000.
The commission will have until the end of December to redraw legislative and Congressional districts and add the extra district. The Legislature does not have to approve the proposal, but three of the four voting members of the committee must agree for it to be adopted.
The new boundaries would go into effect in August 2012.