Island to join 9th Congressional District

Mercer Island and Tacoma don’t have a lot in common, but they will likely share a U.S. Congressional representative, according to new plans approved at the eleventh hour by the State Redistricting Commission.

Under the plans completed yesterday, Mercer Island, Bellevue and Newcastle will be grouped with South Seattle communities such as Renton, SeaTac, Tukwila, Federal Way and Northeast Tacoma to form the 9th District, represented by Democrat Adam Smith.

Smith, who was first elected in 1997, said in a statement he is glad that the district still features his hometown of SeaTac, and he is excited to represent this diverse district.

“Regardless of how the congressional lines have changed, I will continue to work hard, promote policies that encourage job creation and economic growth, and make sure the people of the 9th Congressional District are heard and well-represented in Congress,” he said.

The district would be the first in the state of Washington to feature a population with a majority of non-white residents. This majority-minority district was a high priority for the commission. According to the Redistricting Commission, 50.33 percent of the 9th will be minority residents.

Under the previous division, Mercer Island was represented by Rep. Dave Reichert, whose 8th District moved east, and will center on Issaquah and Sammamish, Auburn and parts of Kent. Reichert will also represent Chelan and Kittitas counties.

The goal of a majority-minority district has been a controversial one throughout the redistricting process. Groups have spoken in favor of the district, saying it is the only way for minority residents to have a voice in state and national matters. Others were frustrated at how much of a role race was playing in the redistricting process.


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