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Originally published Monday, January 10, 2011 at 4:00 PM

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Washington's redistricting commission should include a member from east side of the state

The Seattle Times editorial board recommends that the fifth nonvoting member of the Washington State Redistricting Commission be a woman or person of color from Eastern Washington.

WASHINGTON state's influence in the other Washington is increasing with the addition of a new congressional seat. Census numbers prompted awarding of a new 10th congressional district to a state that 30 years ago had only eight representatives in Congress.

After a little backslapping about our increased cachet, the hard work of redistricting begins. A panel of five people will spend the next year redrawing maps to accommodate the new district, which likely will be somewhere near Southwest Washington.

Democrats named Tim Ceis, former Seattle deputy mayor, and Dean Foster, former chief clerk of the state House, to the Washington State Redistricting Commission. Republicans tapped former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton and former state Rep. Tom Huff. All four are from Western Washington, which means the fifth, nonvoting chair, should be from Eastern Washington.

The new district will be in the western half of the state, but as the panel works census tract by census tract, either a newly drawn 3rd Congressional District, now in Southwest Washington, or a reconfigured 8th Congressional District, currently covering eastern King and Pierce counties, likely will stretch across the Cascades.

Someone from that side of the mountains should have a voice, especially because the commission also produces new maps for 49 state legislative districts. That has a big impact on the Legislature.

Critics lament that legislative leaders selected four white men to conduct the politically potent act of redistricting. How about a woman from Eastern Washington?

This is not about political correctness. Four politically astute people have been chosen to do complicated work. But when working on maps, geographical diversity matters. An individual from Eastern Washington should have a role in these important deliberations.

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