Writings and observations

OR: A remap in outline

Here’s one quick analysis of how districts are going to have to shift in Oregon, based on the numbers talked about in today’s Oregon reapportionment committee meeting, as it tries to do what no legislature has done successfully in 50 years:

The northwest part of Oregon, roughly what is now congressional district 1, will have to be split into more legislative districts. (Washington County added 84,364 people in the last decade, more than anywhere else, about two-thirds of the number needed for a whole Senate district.) The Portland area may need some additional districts, but not so much since population growth in the center of Portland was much less than on the outer ring of it. Eastern Oregon more or less should hold its own overall, though there’ll have to be a number of shifts, and the eastern third of Oregon (geographically lost population). The mid- and southern Willamette Valley may have to shed a legislative district or two, and the southwest region (roughly, congressional district 4) has fallen farthest behind, almost a mirror image of district 1, and will surely have to give up districts, spreading its districts more widely.

You can kind of visualize how the district shift, generally, is going to have to happen.

Since the last decade, minority population has “dispersed,” one witness said, more moving into the suburban area. “There are places where there is more Latino growth than other areas, but it’s hard to generalize,” one witness said.

Communities of interest. Bernie Bottomly of the Portland Busines Alliance Multnomah is a very heavy economic-based county; it accounts for a quarter of Oregon’s public sector employment, while Clackamas and Washington (which together have more population) account for 15%. Multnomah accounts for half of the state total in the area management of companies. Multnomah looks at urbsn interests much differently. So, Bottomly suggested, districts drawn in the area should recognize the difference between Multnomah (read, mainly: Portland) and the suburbs. “In terms of economic communities of interest, Multnomah has remained pretty stable,” he said.

The point came up that the suburbs are becoming increasingly diverse and complex places, including a spreading-out of the state’s racial and ethnic groups, and Bottomly acknowledged that, most notably for Washington County.

Chair Suzanne Bonamici, D-Beaverton, offered a little “push back” as a legislator from a district straddling Multnomah and Washington, saying that the area of Washington bordering Portland had a lot of similarity to Multnomah and looked to it as part of its urban area.

The whole subject of “communities of interest” – which generally are supposed to kept together where practical as districts are drawn – is more complex than you might think. Speakers at the reapportionment committee today covered lumber communities of interest (some interesting talk about how the lightly-populated Willamina area is split between districts), developer experience with communities of interest, Latino restauranteur views on communities of interest, and nursery and orchard owner communities of interest. They made the point that economic communities of interest are a part of the mix, and that urban and rural people can be considered to have very real differences in type of interest.

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