Friday, January 28, 2011

Redistricting commission goes nuclear with an Eastern Washingtonian

Posted on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 1:52 PM

What does analytical chemistry have to do with nonpartisan politics?

Ask Lura Powell, who was elected today to be the chair of the Washington State Redistricting Commission, which is in charge of figuring where the state's newest congressional district will be located. Powell, who is from Richland, was selected by the commission's other four members.

Powell has served as the director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, among other things.  She has lived in Washington for 11 years. 

Washington will get a new district, and new U.S. representative, thanks to the latest Census numbers, which saw the state's population grow to 6.7 million people, or by about 14 percent. Eight other states will also gain congressional members, but Washington is only one of two states that appointed committee members to figure where the new district will go.

In an earlier interview with The Inlander, state Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown said the state is in the best position to draw lines that favor neither of the two major political parties. Democrats and Republicans appointed two members each to the board, who then voted unanimously for Powell's chairmanship.

And she wants the process to stay as apolitical as possible. "I'm not a political junkie," Powell said in a statement. 

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