Frequently Asked Questions
How Were the District Boundaries Created?
State law requires first and foremost that districts be as even as possible in terms of population. To get accurate population counts, the districts must use census data, so boundaries follow census tract and census block boundaries. University of Washington Professor Richard Morrill, a demographer, drew the boundaries based on census data to even populations as much as possible. Professor Morrill was also given supporting information on neighborhood boundaries and physical boundaries to also use that information to the extent possible. Professor Morrill was chosen for his work drawing the district boundaries with the successful Seattle districts petition.
Will Boundaries Ever Be Redrawn?
Yes. Under the proposed amendment, Charter boundaries are redrawn every 10 years when census figures are updated. Districts are balanced by population to account for annexations, new development, or other population changes. The next re-draw will occur in 2020 with new population data. A committee formed by the Mayor and Council will select a district master to update the map and propose new boundaries. The map will be updated again in 2021 to 2022 based on new census data. The first district elections in 2021 will use an updated map.
Who Will Draw the Boundaries and How?
The proposed amendment requires the appointment of an independent nine-member board, and that board then appoints a qualified professional “District Master” to manage the process. The process requires public input and prohibits gerrymandering. The amendment requires districts to be balanced by population in accordance with state law, but also requires that several other factors must also be considered when making new boundaries, to include: existing district boundaries; recognized waterways and geographical boundaries; communities of racial, ethnic, and linguistic minorities; and Everett neighborhoods.
How Will the Transition Occur for Elected Officials?
If the proposed amendment passes, two council positions running in 2019 will be 4 year at-large terms and two positions will be 2 year terms. Then, in the 2021 election, five council positions will be up for election in the created districts. At that time the five district positions will be elected to serve a normal 4-year term. Two years later, in the 2023 election, the two at-large positions will all be elected to the normal 4-year term. From that point forward, all positions will serve the normal 4-year term, with the district positions and at-large positions alternating elections:
2019: Two at large positions elected to 4-year terms, two at-large positions elected to 2-year terms
2021: Mayor and 5 district positions elected to 4-year term (based on updated map from 2020)
2023: Two at large positions elected to 4 year terms (Updated map is created)
2025: Mayor and 5 district positions elected to 4-year terms (using redistricted map from 2020 census data)
How Long Must a Person Live in a District Before They Can Run for a District Council Position?
A person must live in the district for one year prior to the date of election. If running for an at-large position, the person must have resided anywhere in the city for one year prior to the election for the at-large position.
Can a Person That is Elected to a District Council Position Keep Their Position if They Move Out of the District?
No, they are no longer eligible. They could either run for office in their new district once they have lived in the district for one year before their election, or they could run for office in one of the two at-large positions at any time.
How is a District Position Replaced if the Council Member Moves to Another District?
The same way any vacancy is replaced, by an appointment by Council or, if Council cannot agree, by appointment by the Mayor. The appointed person serves until the next general election, and then serves to the next election that would have normally occurred for that position (if it is different from the next general election).
Must an Appointed Person be a Resident of the District that has the Vacancy?
Yes, the proposed Charter amendment defines a “qualified person” and in the case of filling a vacancy in a district position, the person must have resided in the district for at least one year prior to the appointment (or one year anywhere in the City to replace an at-large position).