African American and Latin American communities in Washington’s only majority-BIPOC congressional district risk having their voices diluted, all so that the white incumbent is protected from a progressive challenger. The 9th Congressional District currently includes African American neighborhoods like the Central Area and areas such as South Park with large Latin American immigrant populations. Some of the proposed redistricting maps remove these areas and put them into the white and affluent 7th Congressional District. But you can do something about it. The new district maps are not finalized, and the redistricting commissioners are collecting feedback on their proposed maps through Saturday October 9.
In Washington state, redistricting is supposed to be a neutral, non-partisan affair. The state legislature appoints 4 redistricting commissioners (two from each party). They take community input, look at population distribution data from the previous year’s census, and propose maps. Then we all get a chance to give feedback before they put their heads (and maps) together and come up with the official proposal, which the state legislature then has to approve or amend.
In Washington, the 9th Congressional District has been the only one with a majority-BIPOC population, but barely so — it was something like 49% white as of the 2010 census. There was a strong push this year, especially from a coalition called Redistricting Justice Washington to make sure this status is protected, and even strengthened a bit.
Please take 10 minutes to leave some feedback for the commissioners, demanding that they protect the majority-BIPOC nature of the 9th CD.
The 4 commissioners published their proposed Congressional district maps on Sept 30, and the results do not look good for enhancing BIPOC voices in the 9th CD.
The Talking Points section at the end describes the current proposals in more detail. Here is a very short description of each map:
- Sims (D) is the most blatant incumbent-protection gerrymander. She takes out all of southeast Seattle, which is not only diverse, but also votes more to the left.
- Walkinshaw (D) is the best in terms of protecting BIPOC voices.
- Graves (R) is a blatant attempt at diluting BIPOC voices by splitting them into two districts.
- Fain (R) is very similar to Sims.
These are proposed maps. At this point the commissioners have published them and are asking for feedback from the community. It is critical that we push back hard, especially on April Sims and Paul Graves — Sims because she went back on her commitment to protect the majority-BIPOC nature of the district, and Graves because his maps of the 9th is just plain dishonest.
How to Give Feedback
To give feedback:
- Open this link:
- For each commissioner, click on the “View CD Map & Comment” button under their photo. The map will open in a new tab.
- Zoom in on the part of the map that you want to comment on. The screenshot below is of the Sims proposed map, and the red circle shows that all of south Seattle including Columbia City, Rainier Beach, etc. have been moved out of the 9th and put into the whiter, more affluent 7th.
- Click the Add Comment button to the right.
- Click on the part of the map that you want to comment on. (Remember where you clicked, because at the end, a dot should appear here to show that your comment is registered.)
- A dialog box will open, as shown below. For Walkinshaw’s map select Like and for all the others, select Dislike and fill in your contact info. Note that after your first comment, they will email you a confirmation link, so make sure your email address is correct.
- Be sure to add a short comment explaining why you like or dislike the map. See next section for talking points.
- Click the Add Comment button and then check your mail for a confirmation link.
- Once you have confirmed your comment, make sure that there is a blue dot on the map where you clicked to leave comment:
Please focus your comments on the bigger picture demand that redistricting should protect and strengthen the majority-BIPOC nature of the 9th CD. This has been the demand of Redistricting Justice Washington and the League of Women Voters.
For Sims, you can ask why she took out the part of Seattle that have BIPOC populations like Columbia City, Beacon Hill, Rainier Beach, South Park. The guidelines say that communities of interest should be kept together and these neighborhoods have more in common with south King County than with the rest of Seattle. Also, keeping Mercer Island in the 9th and adding waterfront parts of Burien and Normandy park increases the white density of the district. This all goes against what she had committed to. Also her map is a lot like the map proposed by the Republican Fain, which should also be pointed out.
The Walkinshaw map is the best we can hope for. It is important to give it a Like and say that you support it because it enhances the majority-BIPOC nature of the 9th CD.
The Graves map is just bonkers. He claims that he has created two majority-BIPOC districts, but what he has done is dilute BIPOC voices by splitting them into two districts. With his map, there is a slight majority of people of color in both 9th and 10th, but because he has split that population, the citizen voting age population is majority white in both districts. Give it a big fat dislike.
The Fain map is the lowest priority to comment on, but many of the comments on the Sims map apply here as well.
If you have time, please sign up to give oral comments on Saturday October 9. You can register here:
You will get called at some point to share your comments. So you need to be on the call starting at 10 AM, until you’re called.