Writings and observations

WA: The very new 15th

The final hangup in Washington reapportionment had to do with a single legislative district in eastern Washington – a vast area which has been uniformly Republican for quite some time, so an unlikely place for a hangup.

But the new District 15 is the first in the area to reflect the reality of the very large Latino population in south-central Washington. It runs from part of Yakima south to the Klickitat County line, taking in lots of farm country and mid-sized communities. Historically, this area has elected Republicans solidly. The Latino population in the area, very substantial for some time, has had a light voting footprint.

Now, with the prospect that population can directly make its own choice, that could be changing. The Yakima Herald-Republic notes that “OneAmerica, a Seattle-based immigrant rights group that has been working in the Yakima and Tri-Cities areas, will now step up its efforts with a voter registration campaign early this year targeted to the Latino population.”

And there was this: “Whitman College political science professor Paul Apostolidis, who has spent years studying voting in the Yakima area and the role of majority-minority districts in improving civic engagement among minorities, applauded the new district. … Latinos, Apostolidis said, have been drastically underrepresented in local and state elections. A greater opportunity for minority candidates to win elections will inspire more people to participate, he said.”

Such as change the mix of candidates for legislative and other office. The 15th will be a district to watch.

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