The new 32nd District

Friday, January 13, 2012

The 32nd Legislative District is one of the state legislative districts which sends two representative and a senator to the state legislature in Olympia.

Every ten years, after the federal census, the state legislative districts and congressional districts are redrawn to try to balance them by population. A committee is appointed, and numerous hearings are held all over the state for a year.  Each time, there are special issues which are important to voters that the committee tries to satisfy.

This year, one of the issues was to create legislative districts where ethnic minorities would be in the majority.  This was satisfied with the creation of the 15th legislative district in Yakima. It is called a "minority majority" district, with slightly over 50% Latino population.

Perennial issues focus on geography and the difficulty of holding district meetings when the district includes travel through and around snow-capped mountains, flooding rivers, and national parks.

Closer to home, the main issue of the 32nd district has been to avoid being overwhelmed by Seattle issues. In the previous redistricting a decade ago, 32nd politicos were very concerned about crossing county lines into Edmonds, fearing that issues would be very different in the two counties.

However, as 32nd district Democratic leader Elaine Phelps testified in one of the public hearings, smaller cities and towns have far more in common with each other than they do with the large cities that dominate their counties. The 32nd has functioned harmoniously with citizens from Finn Hill to Edmonds to LFP and Shoreline, with no apparent conflicts of interest from town to town.

Now, the new 32nd legislative district severs Shoreline and Lake Forest Park, leaves Shoreline completely in the 32nd, includes a northwest Seattle neighborhood, all of Woodway, and heads north through Edmonds (but not all), to include Lynnwood. Lake Forest Park and Kenmore are now in the 46th Legislative District.

Current legislators will serve the districts they were elected to, but will need to run in their new districts or move when they are up for re-election, as legislators are required to live in the districts they serve.

Sen. Maralyn Chase lives in Edmonds, Rep. Cindy Ryu lives in Shoreline, and are both within the old and new 32nd District. However, Rep. Ruth Kagi lives in Lake Forest Park, now part of the 46th legislative district.

Rep. Kagi plans to move to the new 32nd district and run for election to hold her seat in the 32nd. According to an article in the Weekly Herald, Kagi said she would move this spring and has been trying to sell her Lake Forest Park home for three years.

“It is a big place for a single woman and her dog,” she said. “It will be a big change, after living in Lake Forest Park for 42 years.”


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