Proposal for new congressional district will push Larsen out | UPDATE

Island County would become part of a new Congressional district under a proposed plan unveiled Tuesday by former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton of the Washington State Redistricting Commission.

The proposed 10th District would stretch from the San Juans to the east edge of Okanogan County in Eastern Washington. It would mean the end of the current boundaries of the 2nd District, and would push Congressman Rick Larsen into a smaller 2nd District while many of his constituents would find themselves in the newly created 10th District.

The 2nd District currently includes Island, San Juan, Skagit and Whatcom counties, and portions of Snohomish and King counties. The revised 2nd District would include a portion of Snohomish and King counties.

Gorton’s plan was one of four presented in Olympia this week.

“I am very pleased to present a redistricting proposal that I believe first and foremost follows the requirements laid out for the commission in the redistricting law,” Gorton said in a statement to the press.

“For example, the law requires us to make districts’ population ‘as nearly equal as is practicable.’ The plan I presented makes every attempt to achieve this goal,” he said.

Larsen said Tuesday the proposed plans for new districts are a first step. Negotiations will follow, and it's unlikely the final map that's eventually adopted will follow the lines set out in any of the proposals made Tuesday.

“I’ve said from the very beginning that I think Bellingham and Everett will be the bookends [of the 2nd District] ... when all is said and done,” said Larsen, D-Everett.

Larsen said he's confident that he will remain in District 2 when the final map is approved. In all four proposals made today, Everett was still included within the 2nd District.

The new Congressional district boundaries will take effect with the November 2012 Congressional and legislative elections, and remain valid for 10 years until the next federal Census and redistricting process takes place.

A public hearing on the proposed maps for the redistricting effort will be held Oct. 11 in Olympia.

Members of the Washington State Redistricting Commission will then work to reach consensus on a final proposal.

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