By Theodore Tollefson With the results of the 2020 Census being released to the public in the month of August, counties across America can begin the once-in-a-decade redistricting process. Pierce …
By Theodore Tollefson
With the results of the 2020 Census being released to the public in the month of August, counties across America can begin the once-in-a-decade redistricting process. Pierce County’s Redistricting Committee met Wednesday, Aug. 18 to begin the redistricting process locally.
The results of the 2020 Census had been delayed for public release for multiple reasons as the COVID-19 pandemic has continued well into 2021. This has shortened the timeline of Pierce County’s Redistricting Committee to conduct necessary changes to the number of districts within Pierce County and redrawing of district border lines.
In a typical year when Census results are not delayed due to major public health factors, a tentative county supervisory district plan would be proposed by July 1 at the latest. Census information started being released Aug. 12; most counties across America, including Pierce, did not receive full Census information until Aug. 16, which has caused not only a delay in redistricting for the county, but less time than usual to complete the process.
The committee voted on the number of supervisory districts for Pierce County, keeping the total number at 17 as the pop- COUNTY
From Page 1
ulation of Pierce County only increased 2.9 percent from 2010 to 2020. This number of supervisory districts will remain the same until 2031.
The committee elected Corporation Counsel Brad Lawrence as chair and County Administrator Jason Matthys as vice chair.
Lawrence spoke on the compressed timeline for the committee’s work.
“The Pierce County Redistricting Subcommittee has adopted a compressed timeline which would allow the new county supervisory districts to be in place for the Spring 2022 election cycle, consistent with the typical redistricting process,” Lawrence said. “It is an aggressive timeline, but committee members believe it is feasible to accomplish. We appreciate the partnership of all Pierce County local governments in this process, and believe this expedited timeline is fair, non-partisan and effective.”
The county’s largest population increase was concentrated in and around the River Falls area with scattering increases in Prescott, Ellsworth and Spring Valley, according to Matthys. Matthys shared how population increases impact the Redistricting Committee’s work.
“There are two things to remember here. The Redistricting Committee for Pierce County is only responsible to adjust the 17 districts based on the new population numbers. After that has been done, the municipalities will then have to meet (similar to what we are doing) to determine what if any changes will need to be made to the wards and communicate that back to the county.”
The committee has three months, from Aug. 23 through Nov. 23, that will ensure redistricting is complete prior to the Spring 2022 elections.
The first step in the redistricting process is to begin drafting a tentative plan on changes for the voting districts. The next phase will be to publish notice for a public hearing, which will be held at 7 p.m. Sept. 15.
After the public hearing, the committee will put a tentative plan for redistricting up to vote. From there, the adopted tentative plan will be sent to municipalities for them to adjust ward boundaries and send these adjustments back to the Redistricting Committee by Oct. 18.
Each city council, village and town board within Pierce County will then redraw the boundaries of their aldermanic districts. They will then vote on the newly proposed boundaries and complete this by Nov. 10.
Pierce County will then hold a final public hearing after all city councils, village and town boards submit their newly drawn boundaries. After the final public hearing, the county will vote on the finalized proposals by Nov. 23 and set in place the districts across Pierce County for the next decade.
The Redistricting Committee met again at 10 a.m. Aug. 18, after this publication’s deadline.