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Kitsap County districts to change — Redistricting options presented

Officials from the Kitsap County Commissioners Office last Thursday presented three options for rearranging Kitsap’s three County Commissioner voting districts.

The primary goal of the change, said Eric Baker, manager of the redistricting at the County Commissioners Office, is to reduce differences in population between the three districts.

Three options, including one to do nothing and keep district lines the same, were presented by Baker and other county officials during a public meeting at the Silverdale Community Center.

All county residents vote on all three commissioner seats, but voting districts determine where residents may run for commissioner, said Kitsap County Elections Manager Dolores Gilmore.

The districts also define the jurisdiction of each commissioner.

State law requires that counties reexamine the layout of their commissioner voting districts when each decade’s census data are published. The county’s current district lines were drawn after the 2002 census. Since then, Baker said, the three districts have grown at different rates.

According to 2010 census data, Barker said, the North Kitsap district has almost 6,300 more people than Central Kitsap, and almost 2,000 more than South kitsap.

The first option leaves district lines the same, Baker said, but the other two expand Central Kitsap, mostly by re-drawing its northern line. The second option moves that border north at Clear Creak Road and along Hood Canal. The third option moves it north only between Silverdale Way and Ridgetop Boulevard. The third option makes no change to the Central/South Kitsap boundary, but the second option alters it to include Panther, Tiger and Mission lakes in Central Kitsap.

Baker said the commissioner’s office was in favor of the second option. By leaving the line in its original position in Silverdale, he said, it avoids splitting the Ridgetop area between North and Central Kitsap, he said.

In addition to minimizing differences in population, the law requires district boundaries be as compact as possible, follow natural boundaries, avoid splitting communities when possible, and avoid disfavoring any political or racial group, Baker said.

Currently the county is split into three districts - North, Central and South - by two lines running east to west across the Kitsap Peninsula. The line between North and Central runs from Puget Sound along Waaga Way, through Silverdale, along State Highway 3 and the Navy railroad to Westgate Road and then west to Hood Canal. The Central/South line runs from about the Warren Avenue Bridge, through downtown Bremerton and along the boundaries of the Bremerton watershed to the Mason County line.

Silverdale resident Joyce Merkel said after the Thursday presentation that she favored the second option because it kept Silverdale neighborhoods together.

Ron Gillespie, of Tracyton, said he also favored the second option for its preservation of the Ridgetop area. Gillespie said he attended Thursday’s event to see what the options were. After hearing about them, he said, “I don’t see how basically anyone could go against what’s being offered here.”

Another public meeting was scheduled for Thursday, Baker said. The Kitsap County Commissioners’ website put the event at the Kitsap Administrative building, at 6 p.m.

After the early October meetings the feedback collected at both public meetings will be presented to the County Board of Commissioners, Baker said. The commissioners will then select a plan and submit it to the state by Dec. 1, said Baker.

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