OLYMPIA — Panelists tasked with redrawing Washington’s political districts said Thursday they still do not have compromise plans as they approached the final week of their work.
Having already surpassed their self-imposed deadline of finishing in November, members of the Washington State Redistricting Commission said there is still more work to do and that a final deal likely wouldn’t come before next week. The commission has an official New Year’s Day deadline, or else the duty is sent to the state Supreme Court.
“We’re getting very, very close to a map that we can propose,” said Tim Ceis, a former deputy mayor in Seattle and a Democratic member of the commission focused on congressional maps. “Those last couple issues are just hanging us up.”
Ceis characterized the remaining issues as “significant,” although members of the panel declined to discuss details of their sticking points.
The redistricting process comes every 10 years, largely to ensure that each district has a balanced population. The state gained a 10th congressional seat after a decade of population growth.
Early proposals from the redistricting commission three months ago showed a variety of ideas on where to place the new 10th District, with Republican commissioner Slade Gorton placing it in the northwest corner of the state and Ceis placing it around Olympia. They were also exploring the possibility of creating a majority-minority congressional district based in south King County.
There are two Republican and two Democratic members of the commission, and at least three of them must agree on the maps before they are approved. Once they do that, the Legislature will have an opportunity to make minor modifications. If no changes are made, the will become final 30 days after the beginning of the legislative session.
Two of the members focused on legislative boundaries previously agreed to details on districts in western Washington that would displace five incumbent lawmakers. They are still working on the eastern side of the state.