Penn Cove precinct edges into District 1
By JESSIE STENSLAND
Whidbey News Times Assistant editor
September 16, 2011 · Updated 2:59 PM
A total of 546 Island County residents within the Penn Cove precinct will be moved to another commissioner district under a redistricting proposal.
Island County Auditor Sheilah Crider said the county’s redistricting committee as well as the county commissioners have decided on a redistricting option that is the simplest, least expensive and creates the straightest boundaries.
“It’s the option that’s the cleanest and most orderly and will burden taxpayers the least,” she said.
The decision, however, isn’t final. Under state law, the county had to give the public a week to comment before final action is taken. The commissioner introduced the redistricting proposal at a meeting on the night of Sept. 12; no members of the public spoke. Adoption is on the agenda for Sept. 19.
The county is required to complete redistricting every 10 years, based on census results. The overall goal, Crider said, was to make the population as close as possible in each of the three commissioner districts, without cutting through obvious boundaries like city limits.
This year, the target was to create a population of 26,169 in Commissioner Districts 1 and 2 and 26,168 in District 3. Under the proposal, Crider said populations in the three precincts will be “very close.” District 1 will be 81 below the goal, District 2 will be 384 above the goal and District 3 will be 304 below the goal.
Since South Whidbey experienced the greatest population growth, District 1 had to be shortened a little to balance the population. District 1 covers South and Central Whidbey, while District 2 takes in the city of Oak Harbor and some areas south of the city.
Crider said the easiest way to make the change was to move the Penn Cove precinct from District 1 into District 2. She said the precinct was within a “clean boundary exactly between Monroe Landing Road and Balda Road.” She said the population of the precinct is 546 people.
Crider said the redistricting effort also cleans up the map to include annexations over the last 10 years. That means the estimated 250 residents of areas of Oak Harbor that were annexed will soon be in District 2.
District 3 encompassed much of North Whidbey and all of Camano Island.
Commissioner precincts may not have much of an impact on average people. It affects who can vote in a primary election for a county commissioner, though everyone gets to vote in general election for county commissioners. But with recent tight elections, any change in precinct boundaries could have an impact.
Contact Whidbey News Times Assistant editor Jessie Stensland at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360.675.6611 ext. 5056.