EVERETT — Everett City Council districts likely will keep their basic shapes despite some pleas to remake the two northern districts with Broadway as the dividing line.
The redistricting commission, a group of nine Everett residents appointed to review Census data for adjustments to council districts, voted unanimously Sept. 8 to recommend the map. It slightly shifts each district to keep the total population within 3% over or under the average of 22,126 residents.
Some people, including several from the Delta neighborhood, continued their call to remake one district east of Broadway from the northern end as far south as the Valley View neighborhood.
Members of the group who pushed for City Council districts have criticized the commission’s process to adjust the map and present it to the public.
Bob Schweitzer, the districting master hired by the commission to evaluate the map adopted in 2020 and recent Census data, presented a map with districts split down Broadway to the commission last month. It helped narrow the population deviation for the first and second districts, he said.
“I’m very much leaning towards this whole idea of this option B for this Broadway split,” Schweitzer told the commission.
But the commission eventually declined to propose that option, and instead unanimously voted for a version that had “small tweaks” to the 2020 map.
“Doing a big change like this, after having had this map for only two years, I think it’s just too much,” said commission member Simone Tarver, the only member who also served on the first districting commission. “I think it’s something for the districting commission to consider in 10 years if the Northwest goes absolutely wild and wins every time.”
Everett voters ushered in city council districts in 2018. The first elections for five City Council positions by district were in 2021.
Some members of Everett Districts Now, the group that pushed to get council districts on the ballot, criticized the commission for not accepting spoken public comment during its earlier meetings and for not proposing a district east of Broadway.
The commission’s meetings were conducted remotely via Zoom and could be viewed there or on YouTube.
In-person comments were accepted during meetings held in each district in August when the proposed map was available for review.
Attendance at those meetings was sparse with at most 10 people in the audience. One meeting had as few as one person who did not comment on the proposed map, Everett engagement director Nichole Webber told The Daily Herald.
Commission members distributed fliers, the city posted about the meetings to its social media and website, and announcements were made during city council meetings, Webber said.
“There’s just not high participation in how these lines are being drawn,” Webber said.
Data about the districts with Broadway was used as the dividing line wasn’t presented until last month. It put the commission up against a tight deadline with Nov. 1 as the date when the City Council has to approve the map, according to the city charter.
“If they had taken public comment, they would know that people were advocating for a different option, for splitting the first district east and west along Broadway,” said Megan Dunn, speaking as one of the Everett Districts Now organizers and not as a Snohomish County Council member.
In the Sept. 8 meeting, some commission members discussed how recently the districts were implemented and their aversion to making major changes.
Schweitzer also called the districts “very new” and said it was “quite a bit more change” to do the Broadway split, but it could be done if that’s what the community and commission wanted.
Lois Wentink, another Everett Districts Now organizer, said she disagreed with the commission pointing to how new the districts are as a reason to avoid considering broader changes.
“That was basically the one argument, ‘It’s too soon,’” Wentink said.
The Everett City Council is scheduled for a briefing of the proposed map next week, with a vote Oct. 19. It must be accepted, without changes, by Nov. 1, according to the city charter.
“There’s so little time,” Wentink said. “I’m just feeling great frustration in a process that should’ve been open and participatory.”
Per the charter, the next districting commission will be convened when new Census data is available in 10 years.
Ben Watanabe: 425-339-3037; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @benwatanabe.
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