The Clark County Council is now considering another redistricting map for its seatholders after its newest council member suggested a map that dates back to the group initially tasked with approving the new boundaries.
During a May 4 hearing, the council voted 3-2 to approve and move a map titled “Alternative C2” to a public hearing on May 11. The map is the latest under consideration by the council in the process that first ended up in their hands at the start of the year.
Moving that map to a hearing was proposed by Clark County Councilor Richard Rylander. Rylander was sworn onto the council the prior day after he was appointed to the district 5 seat by Gov. Jay Inslee on April 29.
The map was initially not under consideration by the council. Ostensibly, the May 4 meeting was intended to advance an alternative map from April 19 that was drafted by county staff.
“From an outside perspective, having no iron in the fire other than just now joining the council, I cannot support this map,” Rylander said about the April 19 map.
Prior to his appointment, Rylander said he followed the process as a member of the public. He said earlier in the week he spent time going over the various iterations with Paul Newman, a Clark County Geographic Information Systems analyst, who designed some of the previous alternative maps.
Councilor Julie Olson said the April 19 map was the closest to what was in front of voters in November while fulfilling requirements in state law. The map Rylander brought forth came to fruition through a now-dissolved redistricting committee that was initially tasked with approving a map.
“This map looks like a mess, frankly,” Olson said of Rylander’s suggestion.
Compared to what was originally on the table for the meeting, the Alternative C2 map shifts the boundaries of district 3 and district 4, creating a peninsula of district 4 that extends west. That map also shifts the boundary of district 5 south into district 2.
The Alternative C2 map would keep Clark County Council Chair Karen Bowerman in district 3. The redistricting process has faced backlash from the public for at times taking into account the current residences of councilors when drawing boundaries.
Councilor Temple Lentz said the April 19 map “is the only map that has not been influenced by partisanship and by direct involvement from policymakers.”
Lentz said it was “inappropriate” to go backward with a map that barring a few changes aligns with precincts dated back to 2021.
The council is making the adjustments after county voters approved an amendment to the county’s home rule charter which created district 5. The amendment also made the formerly at-large council chair position an appointed position by the members of the council.
The additional week of consideration puts adoption of the redistricting map closer to the beginning of candidate filing week. Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey said his office is currently accepting candidate declarations through the mail, but they wouldn’t be in effect until in-person filing begins on May 16.
Kimsey said it would be “extraordinarily helpful” to have a map approved by May 11. With the possibility of mail-in filers being placed in a different jurisdiction, Kimsey said any filing for an incorrect office would be rejected and the fee would not be accepted.
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