Posted by: sweeneyblog | October 15, 2011

Redistricting Whatcom – A follow-up

You might remember the redistricting committee released their four proposals about a month ago. I wrote about it here, and then about some of the sneaky redrawing of the lines here.  Now, after some tough negotiating, they have weaned it down to just two legislative maps to compare (the congressional maps aren’t out yet). Here is where you can look at them on google maps.

First the Republican proposal for Whatcom County:

Republican's Huff and Gorton's plan

As you can see, “Huff’s Finger” has disappeared, leaving a pretty similar map to what we currently have. The lines for the 40th have moved northward, making the 42nd even harder territory for Democrats and reaffirming the 40th as a solid blue district.

This leaves almost the entire Lake Whatcom watershed in the hands of Vincent Buys, Jason Overstreet, and yes, that union-buster Doug Ericksen, who have shown very little regard for protecting our drinking water. But it would solidify Bellingham as a serious population base for the 40th. Luckily, all of our fantastic 40th representation take the Bellingham part of their population very seriously. My favorite representative, Kris Lytton, has moved her legislative office to Fairhaven along with Sen. Kevin Ranker, and Kris regularly holds brown bag lunch listening sessions on the third Monday of each month just to hear about Bellingham issues.

But back to the maps, nothing earth shattering here.

Democratic Reps Ceis and Foster's plan

The Democratic plan is bit more bold. As we predicted last time, they extend the 39th legislative district up into Whatcom to sweep up everything east of Lynden. This peels off a good chunk of conservative voters out of the battleground 42nd LD and into the safely republican 39th, making the 42nd more competitive. Even more interesting, it relocates Vincent Buys, who lives in Everson, into the 39th forcing him to either move or run against his former fellow Republicans in the 39th. Steve Lydolph brings up a good point about this:
“The Democrats plan doesn’t squeeze out Vincent Buys. He is moving to Lynden anyway. He’s building a house there and plans to move in sometime soon.”

This plan moves MOST of the Bellingham into the 42nd, and adds in some serious rural votes to the 40th by adding the Lake Whatcom Watershed and parts of the Foothills to that district.

Not surprisingly, I like this version the best. I like it because it makes EVERYTHING more competitive (aside from the 39th). The Democrats in the 40th now have to persuade some of the conservative Foothills voters to support them, the 42nd representation now has to appeal to downtown urban Bellingham for a chunk of their votes. When we divide districts on ideological lines, it leads to gridlock, but when public officials have to represent a broad spectrum of views, it leads to moderation, compromise and frankly, better governance for all.

My name is Riley Sweeney and I support the Ceis/Foster plan. How about you?



  1. The Democrats plan doesn’t squeeze out Vincent Buys. He is moving to Lynden anyway. He’s building a house there and plans to move in sometime soon.

  2. Gawd the R plan is depressing.

  3. I agree with you, Riley. Especially with the moving of the 39th into the eastern part of the county. The line for Whatcom Co.(which does not change) includes the very small section of the 39th now which is difficult to reach and possibly, with a change in the 39th lines it will be included in the political process. To bad it will probably go to Republicans but — oh well, the people will at least be able to participate more effectively.
    As for the 42nd LD the fight is always real there and Bellingham generally leads the prominent voting, with the rural voters being difficult to reach and generally (over the years) has gone to the Republicans. The multiple elections of Doug Erickson is clearly an outcome of this “trend”. And NOW we have no choice for our Whatcom Co. Executive election I presume because of the rural conservative voters ! A terrible situation for the county to have to deal with, considering the council is also conservative leaning at this time. Hopefully that will change with the upcoming elections! Well, nothing here you don’t know and probably are as frustrated as I am with the SITUATION! So what will this redistricting do for Democrats in terms of organizing strategies? This is a BIG QUESTION!!

    • In terms of organizing strategies? The 40th will probably refocus down in Mt. Vernon as the center of their district, leaving Bellingham ready to pour their money, heart and passion into changing the 42nd. They will, hopefully, better connect with Ferndale and Blaine to help make this a more urban-aware district.

  4. Nope, I actually strongly prefer the R plan. Sure, it moves more of Bham into the 40th, but that’s going to happen anyway, over time.

    The R plan allows two districts to touch LW, six representatives on the hook for its health, which is a good idea. LW was never really in threat of legislative stranding anyway, so long as Bham drinks from it and strongly influences the 40th.

    The D plan casts Sumas, Nooksack and Everson into the politics of Snohomish County, and that seems just stupid to me. The primary ballots of voters to the east of the Guide would have names on them completely unknown and unheard of to voters living just across the highway.

    Not everything the Ds cook up is a godsend.

    • I agree that not everything the Ds cook up is a godsend, but connecting the rural communities of Sumas, Nooksack and Everson with the rural communities of Snohomish makes sense. Both have a strong agricultural base and share a great deal in common.

      As for people across the street having different ballots, I live on Alabama St, the people two blocks south of me have a bunch of people from Skagit on their ballot (the 40th LD). Doesn’t stop them from getting to know their representatives.

      • Thing is, Riley, I don’t see that the D plan is going to do much to sweeten up the disposition of the 42nd. And I don’t see that a largely rural district is likely to swing liberal, either. So now you’ve a likelihood of six of nine state representatives stamping their boot in the face of Bellingham.

        I think the dairy farmers east of the Guide have more in common with diary farmers west of the Guide than they do with dairy farmers in Gold Bar (if such exist).

  5. Again, I’m going to have to disagree. I think the D’s plan definitely sweetens the 42nd. By adding more of Bellingham to the 42nd and removing the rural voters east of Lynden, you remove a chunk of conservative and a chunk of liberal votes. Seems pretty straightforward.

    Not arguing too much about your second point.

    • You should take a look at the voting makeup and precinct-by-precinct outcomes of the north of Bellingham and around Lake Whatcom. They skew strongly conservative, particularly the north end.

      Things only begin to “liberal up,” strongly, around the university and south. That’s fairly unchanged in the D plan.

      So the D plan does not really do much to sweeten up the 42nd, IMO. It meanwhile casts conservatives around LW south into the 40th, probably not much of a change factor there, but a wash if the Ds are trying to engineer some advantage through redistricting.

      As I mentioned, I think it’s good to have two districts touch the lake. And I think it’s a clear advantage to only have six LD positions to fight for/against, rather than nine–with a third of those nine probably larded up with Sonohomish imperatives and probably based out of Everett (Google SNOCO PRA sometime). I’ll take the 50/50 chance we have now over the 33/66 that’s likely from the D plan…


      • A great perspective, you make some good points.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: