City Council Redistricting
From the City's Demographer's Draft Recommended Districting Plan:
"This memorandum documents relevant technical features of the Recommended City Council Redistricting Plan (“the Redistricting Plan”) for the City of Pasco, Washington(“City”). These features are the basis for my recommendation to adopt the Redistricting Plan as a “least change” six-district election plan, based upon newly issued 2020 decennial Census data and in accordance with Washington State and federal standards. Relevant considerations that guided this necessary rebalancing and Council Members’ further suggested refinements to bring the City’s current plan into compliance with applicable legal standards are summarized below. This Redistricting Plan rebalances each district’s total population, strengthening Hispanics’ share of eligible voters in District 2, and maintains adherence to traditional districting criteria. Additionally, the Redistricting Plan avoids any dilution of Hispanics’ voting strength in compliance with state and federal requirements."
Draft 2022 City Council District Map
Maps, Reports, and Data
- View the draft 2022 City Council District map here
- View the current (2017) City Council District map here
- City Attorney Eric Ferguson Report, November 28, 2022
- Shapefile (GIS) ZIP: Voting Precincts
- Voting Precinct List (.xlsx Excel file)
As part of the City's federal consent decree changing the way City Council members were elected to comply with the federal Voting Rights Act (VRA) (full background here), the U.S. Decennial (10-year) Census is the standard that Council Districts are to be drawn.
Delayed by the impacts of the COVID pandemic, the 2020 U.S. Decennial Census was completed in August of 2021, rather than April, and the subsequent release to the Washington State Office of Financial Management, which in turn, provided that information to the States, Counties, and Municipalities was further delayed. Completion of the U.S. Census and release of the information triggers the need for the City to review its City Council Districts to ensure compliance with the federal and recently adopted state Voter Rights Acts (VRA).
Since given the Census information, and per City Council direction, City staff has been working with specialized legal and demographic professionals to review and update City Council District boundaries to account for changes in:
- City Boundaries
- Total Population
- Voter Population
- Other pertinent demographic factors that have occurred between 2010 and 2020.
The City hired the services of Floyd, Pflueger & Ringer, P.S., as well as Dr. Peter Morrison (who developed the current Council Voting Districts in 2017) and assisted the City in updating the Council Districts.
City Staff has briefed the Council on the progress and development of the Redistricting Plan as information was received from the consultants and believes the draft plan meets the criteria required per RCW 29A.76.010(4) and the Federal VRA:
- Each internal director, council, or commissioner district shall be as nearly equal in population as possible to each and every other such district comprising the municipal corporation, county, or special purpose district.
- Each district shall be as compact as possible.
- Each district shall consist of a geographically contiguous area.
- Population data may not be used for purposes of favoring or disfavoring any racial group or political party.
- To the extent feasible and if not inconsistent with the basic enabling legislation for the municipal corporation, county, or district, the district boundaries shall coincide with existing recognized natural boundaries and shall, to the extent possible, preserve existing communities of related and mutual interest.
The public has given comments at in-person opportunities:
- Wednesday, November 2, 2022; watch the video from the meeting here.
- Monday, November 7, 2022, watch the video from the meeting here.
- The Council is taking written comments (via the form below) until December 5 on the draft map.
You can also submit comments to the Council via this form here!
For more information, please contact the City Manager's office at (509) 545-3404.
The Pasco City Council, previous to 2018, was made up of five seats where voting was by district in the primary election, but "at-large" (the entire city) in the general election, and two "at-large" seats which were voted city-wide in both the primary and general election. This system had seen numerous district boundary adjustments, a process called redistricting, over the past several election cycles in response to the rapid growth of the city. Along with the overall growth, community demographics had changed. According to U.S. Census data, 20 percent of the population in 1980 was of Latino heritage; in 2016, that number was 56 percent. Demographic changes in the city’s voting-age population had also occurred, with an estimated 36 percent of the voting-age population identifying as Latino in 2016.
Noting this trend, the City Council took particular care during the 2014-2015 redistricting process to assure that districts in areas more densely populated with Latino voting-age citizens be structured in such a way as to maximize the impact of the Latino vote. However, through this process, the City Council recognized the effect of then-current state law preventing Pasco and "code" cities like it from providing for a district-only based election system in both the primary and general elections, which limited the impact of the Latino vote.
In May 2015, the City Council enacted Resolution No. 3635 declaring its intent to pursue a change in state law to allow district based-voting; declaring the City’s continuing intent to provide equal voting opportunities for all of its citizens and to provide equitable and proportional representation. A district-based voting system would ensure that only the voters residing within the district vote on the district representative, not only for the primary but also for the general election. The City actively pursued a change in state law through the legislative process during the 2015 and 2016 legislative sessions; however, the State Legislature did not pass a bill that would offer relief in those sessions.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Washington, in March 2016, notified the City that they believed the City’s election system, as it fails to provide for district-based elections, violated the federal Voting Rights Act (VRA) and would seek remedies, including court action, to make the City compliant with the VRA. The City engaged in active negotiations with the ACLU to evaluate the concerns raised, ensure whatever course the City Council elected to pursue would withstand any challenges for violating state or federal law, and avoid litigation.
After receiving the ACLU’s first communication, City officials consulted with the ACLU to determine the data and the law that must be considered in addressing the violations of the VRA. Given the fact that state law at that time precluded district-based voting in cities like Pasco, and Pasco’s (and others) efforts to change state law to allow for greater flexibility had been fruitless, both the City and ACLU agreed that it would be necessary to embrace limited litigation in Federal Court as the only available means to bring the force of federal law to remedy the problem that existed as a result of the then-current state law.
Following the filing of a complaint in Federal Court by the ACLU, alleging violation of the VRA, the City and ACLU jointly proposed a "Partial Consent Decree" which served to identify the likely violation of the VRA and establish jurisdiction of the Court to order an appropriate remedy to address the violation. The City Council approved the submission of the Partial Consent Decree in August 2016.
Upon the approval of the Partial Consent Decree, the City and ACLU met to determine if an agreement could be reached on a voting plan as a remedy for the VRA issues. The ACLU preferred a seven-district option; the City Council chose a six district, one at-large seat option as its preferred alternative. Since an agreement on a remedy was not reached, the Federal Court heard arguments from each side in December 2016, with the goal that Court approval of any plan could occur well in advance of the May 2017 City Council candidate filing deadline.
On January 27, 2017, Federal Judge Suko rendered a decision; he agreed that the City’s proposed plan of a six district, one at-large Council election system met the requirements of the federal Voting Rights Act. The judge required that all Council seats be up for election in 2017, with districts 1, 3, 4, and 6 elected to four-year terms, and districts 2, 5, and the at-large seat be initially elected to two-year terms followed by four-year terms thereafter.
The 2017 election resulted in 5 new City Council candidates winning seats:
- Blanche Barajas, District 1, elected to a four-year term
- Ruben Alvarado, District 2, elected to a two-year term
- Pete Serrano, District 4, elected to a four-year term
- David Milne, District 5, elected to a two-year term
- Craig Maloney, District 6, elected to a four-year term
Two incumbent Councilmembers retained their seats:
- Saul Martinez, District 3, elected to a four-year term
- Matt Watkins, At-Large, elected to a two-year term
The Councilmembers elected under the new system formally assumed office on January 1, 2018.
For more information, contact the City Manager’s office at (509) 545-3404.