Commission asked to cut Island out of 23rd District

"The bipartisan Washington State Redistricting Commission, tasked with redrawing legislative and congressional districts boundaries, conducted a public hearing Wednesday, June 13, at the Kitsap County Courthouse.Chairman Graham Johnson of Spokane said the meeting's purpose was to hear what kind of tinkering, if any, locals wanted for their districts.Census data indicates Washington, with 5.9 million residents, was the 10th-fastest-growing state in the nation since 1990. Much of that growth was in King, Snohomish, Pierce and Clark counties, but Kitsap County's population, also increased by 22 percent since 1990.As a result, the three legislative and two congressional districts in Kitsap County require reconfiguring. Many who attended the meeting questioned whether Bainbridge Island should remain in the 23rd Legislative District, and whether South Kitsap should remain split between the 26th and 35th legislative districts.Others called for keeping Manette in the 23rd District, saying the East Bremerton neighborhood is different than West Bremerton, which is in the 26th and 35th districts.But the 23rd District needs to lose about 6,000 in population, commissioners said, to even out with other districts around the state.Bainbridge Island resident Frederick Scheffler said the commission could find that 6,000 on Bainbridge Island.There is no employment base on Bainbridge Island. It's more of a bedroom community to Seattle and has more ties with Seattle, including a 206 area code, said Scheffler. We have different interests from the rest of the (23rd) District. Fellow island resident Phil Scherrer agreed, and said although islanders live in Kitsap, their hearts and careers are in Seattle.Joan Gorner of North Kitsap said Bainbridge Islanders have little in common with Kitsap residents.I've taken petitions down there and residents don't want to sign, saying 'I live on Bainbridge Island, not Kitsap County.' County Auditor Karen Flynn offered another point of view. The Bainbridge Island area is different from the rest of Kitsap in many ways, but they also have many ties, such as the school districts, Flynn said. And although island residents travel by ferry to Seattle, they live in a rural environment.Flynn said Bainbridge Island's best interest is to remain in the 23rd District, because King County and Seattle just aren't as interested, in funding for the Washington State Ferries. Jim Sharpe of the 23rd District Democrats suggested shifting Subase Bangor into the 35th District to even up populations between the 23rd and 35th. "

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