Opinion

Don't let rural issues get swept away

So, here's my problem with what's being proposed by the King County Redistricting Committee that will take effect by Dec. 31 unless there is a major turnaround in their thinking. By the way, this process is mandated to take place every 10 years. It entails reconfiguring the 13 council districts, adjusting for population changes, common interests in adjacent communities and using natural boundaries when possible.

When the current county government was created over 30 years ago, there were seven council districts. Of those seven, five had rural populations within them. So, about 71 percent of the council members represented rural. When the new 13 member council was created in 1994, only four members had rural populations within their districts. One included Vashon Island, the other three were east King County. This shows a reduction in members with rural down to about 31 percent. Now what is being proposed is a further reduction down to three members, or 23 percent.

We have seen the slide from almost three-fourths of the council to the proposed being under one-quarter. What does this tell us?

1. Rural is on its way off the issue table. With the great majority of the council without rural dialog, the discussions get very quiet in comparison to urban and suburban concerns.

2. In the next redistricting 10 years from now, we can expect a reduction down to two districts, Vashon and east King County. If you see this coming, it gives one pause to think about the Cedar County movement to secede from King County and create a new rural county.

What I propose is to bring back the dialog because all county residents have an interest in the preservation and protection of rural, not just as an aesthetic, but its lifestyle.

So, what we need to do is see the six east King County districts divided up so they each get a piece of the rural. Combine that with Vashon Island and we have a majority of the members talking rural. This, at least, will keep the subject on the table.

To hell with the incumbents who want to protect their ability to get re-elected! Let's draw these lines to encourage the total quality of life in King County. Let's make sure that rural doesn't get swept away or fade into oblivion due to lack of discussion and representation.

If not, I'll see you in Cedar County!

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