FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Minorities now majority in 9th congressional district and four legislative districts; including Latino majority in 15th legislative district
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 2, 2012
Contact: Cherry Cayabyab
Minorities now majority in 9th congressional district and four legislative districts; including Latino majority in 15th legislative district
SEATTLE, Washington — WA minorities made great strides this decennial round of state redistricting. WA has gained its first majority-minority congressional district and Latino majority legislative district. The new 9th congressional district is just over one half minority at 50.3% and encompasses Southeast Seattle, Bellevue, North Tacoma and South King County. The final redistricting plan adopted on Jan 1st also establishes four majority-minority legislative districts – the 15th in Yakima county and 11th, 33rd and 37th in south King county.
WA’s gain of a new 10th congressional district can be attributed to the growth of minorities, now one fourth of the statewide population. The WA Redistricting Commission heard unprecedented testimony from communities of color throughout the state about the need for the new district lines to reflect the growth of communities of color over the last decade. United for Fair Representation, a coalition established to educate and encourage communities of color to be involved in the redistricting process, turned out 600 Unity Map supporters to almost all 18 redistricting forums around the state.
“Thanks to the commission for taking into account the changing demographics of the state, and for offering people of color in WA the opportunity for meaningful participation in the democratic process.“ said Celestino Gallegos, board member at Latino Community Fund.
The 15th legislative district will serve an unprecedented 54.6% Latino majority population. Just how much of a Latino majority the 15th should get was a point of contention among redistricting commissioners. In the end, a bipartisan compromise put the City of Yakima’s Latino populated southeast and north central neighborhoods in the 14th legislative district. “While we are disappointed that backroom politics resulted in separating Latinos in southeast Yakima city from those in the lower Yakima valley, we will continue to fight for fair representation for all Latinos in Yakima and will maximize political opportunities in our new Latino majority legislative district,” said Lorena Gonzalez, vice president of One America.
The coalition also requested that the 29th legislative district reflect Tacoma’s growing communities of color. With a 48% minority population, the 29th should become a majority-minority legislative district in the next decade. Commissioners did not create a Latino majority 9th legislative district in Tri-Cities as requested by advocates. They did, however, include Yakima and Tri-Cities together in the 4th Congressional District, which now holds a fast-growing minority population at 42.8%.
“The work of our coalition, United for Fair Representation, is far from over. Engaging in the redistricting process is critical but not sufficient to ensure that everyone has fair representation. In the upcoming legislative session, we will be advocating for the passage of the WA State Voting Rights Act. This historic piece of legislation will be an important legal tool for ensuring fair representation for all”, said George Cheung, executive director at the Win Win Network.
“Let the record show that in 2011 we stood up – Black, Brown, Asian Pacific Islander, Native Americans, more – and said in one unified voice that we will be represented, our voices will be heard, we will never again be taken for granted and we WILL fully participate in the electoral process”, said Nate Miles, Fair Representation coalition member. “Now is the best opportunity for people of color to register and turn out to vote. Electoral races in these majority-minority districts are especially where our votes will have an impact.”