Sees Partisan Tilt in New Districts." September 25, 2001
From his front porch in Jacksonville, Jason Atkinson can throw a Frisbee across the line that now separates him from his old state Senate district.
It's a short distance, but it has long consequences for the first-term Republican, who could be facing the end -- or at least an interruption -- of a political career on the rise.
And that, Atkinson says, is just what Secretary of State Bill Bradbury was going for when he devised a contentious new set of legislative district maps.
"To draw me out of my district -- it's so ridiculously partisan, even the Democrats can't keep a straight face," said Atkinson, who would have to move out of his recently remodeled house to run for re-election in his new district. "It's just mean."
Bradbury's plan for redrawing the boundary lines for House and Senate districts has run into a wall of outrage by Republicans who think the secretary of state, a Democrat, rigged it to give his party a leg up in the next elections. A dozen lawsuits have been filed with the Oregon Supreme Court in a concerted effort to scrap the plan.
Bradbury has maintained from the beginning that he scrupulously avoided partisan tinkering, etching in new lines without even looking at voter registration data. Democrats reject any suggestion that he illegally or intentionally favored his party. "I haven't seen any evidence of that," said Senate Democratic Leader Kate Brown.
But political analysts who have examined the plan say it's about as partisan as they come -- and that no one should be surprised by that.
Redistricting, which occurs every 10 years, "is a highly partisan activity," said Chuck Bennett, a lobbyist for the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators. "It always has been."
Bennett was one of the first state political insiders to write a detailed report of the impact of the new district lines. Among his findings:
A radically revised and huge Senate district on the coast appears to favor the political future of Terry Thompson, a commercial fisherman and former Democratic House member. If he runs and wins, it could tip the balance of Senate control to the Democrats for the first time since the 1993 session.
Bradbury designed a House district around Woodburn to encompass a concentration of Hispanic voters -- 40 percent by most estimates. The seat is held by Rep. Cliff Zauner, R-Woodburn, who sponsored a bill last session to eliminate bilingual education.
Rep. Jeff Kropf, R-Halsey, planned to run for the Senate seat about to be vacated by Albany Democrat Mae Yih. His chances looked good until Bradbury shifted the districts, assigning Kropf to a district occupied by Sen. Roger Beyer, R-Molalla, who's not going anywhere. Yih's old district was changed to include Democrat-dominated Corvallis.
"When you analyze it, it sure looks like the Democrats did better under the plan," Bennett said. "I don't know how else to read it."
Bennett is far from alone in his opinions. Others have complained about districts with tentacles that reach from suburbs into Democrat-rich urban areas of Portland, Eugene and Corvallis. The point: To salt Republican strongholds with enough Democrat voters to tilt the odds.
"There's just something wrong with that," said Mark Nelson, a longtime lobbyist whose clients range from Head Start to Anheuser-Busch. "It's blatant."
Democrats reject the notion that Bradbury intentionally set the new boundaries to benefit the party. No matter what he did, Republicans would have objected, they say.
"The real question is, does the plan hold up in court?" said Neel Pender, executive director of the Democratic Party of Oregon. "I believe it does."
Over the next three weeks, the Oregon Supreme Court will consider 12 lawsuits challenging Bradbury's plan. The suits give legal arguments to many of the complaints listed above. Some seek to revoke Bradbury's plan in favor of one approved by Republican-led majorities in the Legislature but vetoed by Gov. John Kitzhaber.
If the Legislature can't agree on redistricting, the task falls to the secretary of state. Given the stalemate of a Republican Legislature and Democratic governor, Bradbury's role in redistricting has been predicted since before his election last fall.
Kropf, the Halsey Republican, offers himself as an example of what he thinks was Bradbury's intent to make things hard on Republicans. Kropf, a peppermint farmer, had announced early on that he planned to leave his House seat and run for Yih's Senate seat.
But with Bradbury's plan, Kropf has been assigned to a different district, which would force him to run against Beyer, a fellow Republican incumbent. To run for Yih's vacant seat, or for his old House seat, Kropf and his wife, Peggy Sue, would have to pack their household and move up to 20 miles from his farm.
"It was part of their strategy," Kropf said. "The whole redistricting plan is rife with those types of political maneuvers."
What most annoys Republicans and baffles political analysts was Bradbury's decision to virtually ignore county lines as natural political boundaries. The law requires new districts "when possible" to use county lines, as well as "communities of interest," which include neighborhoods, school districts and unincorporated communities.
Linn County, for example, which had been served by two Senate districts, is split among four. House districts cross the Multnomah County line nine times under Bradbury's plan, compared with three times under the old one.
Bradbury won't comment on the specifics of his plan now that it is the target of legal action. In the past, he has said that county lines -- especially in urban areas -- don't carry the weight they used to because of the growing influence of regional governments, such as Metro.
But critics say Bradbury merely wanted to increase the number of registered Democrats in some key suburban districts by extending them into urban areas. The result, according to Paul Connolly, an attorney for Republicans challenging the plan, is to give cities such as Portland, Eugene and Corvallis more clout in legislative elections.
Brown, the Senate Democratic leader, said such arguments are off base. Bradbury looked at other commonalities, such as transportation links, to lump populations together in districts, she said.
"A voter registration edge doesn't mean a thing anymore," said Brown of Portland. She cited Sen. Ryan Deckert's victory last year over Republican incumbent Sen. Eileen Qutub in Republican-leaning Washington County. "What's important is finding candidates who fit the district."
Besides, Brown said, there are examples of Democrats getting drawn out of their districts. Among them: Reps. Robert Ackerman and Phil Barnhart, both of Eugene, and Sen. Avel Gordly of Portland.
Some conflicts are unavoidable because of population changes over the past 10 years, Republican critics acknowledge. But some clearly were avoidable, they say.
Sen. Ken Messerle, R-Coos Bay, recalls talking to Bradbury before a public hearing on redistricting and letting him know he lived in the southern part of District 24. Messerle was surprised, to put it mildly, to discover Bradbury had split his district -- and left Messerle out of it.
Asked if he thought Bradbury intentionally excluded him from his old district, Messerle said, "It certainly appears that way. He knew I did not live in that northern part of the district."
Like Kropf, Atkinson and others, Messerle now faces the prospect of an early halt to his political career. The other options are selling his house and moving to run with dimmed chances in a vastly different district, or running against an established Republican incumbent, Sen. Bill Fisher of Roseburg.
Thompson, the former Democratic House member, said he plans to run in the new coastal Senate district, whether Messerle does or not. He said the new districts have less to do with partisanship than with giving coastal communities more clout at the Legislature.
"The old plan was a disaster," Thompson said, because it put coastal communities in with high-growth centers in Yamhill County. Those voters overwhelmed the ones on the coast. "Now coastal people will actually have a voice," he said.
Bennett, the schools lobbyist, chuckled about the Republican hand-wringing over Bradbury's plan. Redistricting, he said, is what the 2000 secretary of state election was all about.
"The Democrats won that office, and this is the outcome," he said. "Geez, who's surprised here?"
You can reach Harry Esteve at 503-221-8226 or by e-mail at [email protected]
Washington's citizen Redistricting Commission on Monday unveiled competing proposals for changing congressional and legislative district boundaries. It's the first step in coming up with bipartisan maps that will guide elections for the next decade.
After every census, the state has to redraw political boundaries so each district has roughly the same population. In Washington state, that job is handled by a citizen panel appointed by the four legislative caucus leaders.
The two Democrats and two Republicans have until mid-December to agree on new districts. The plan has to be approved by at least three of the four commissioners.
At a special meeting in Olympia, each commissioner went public with congressional and legislative maps, describing their rationale, but downplaying political goals.
Commissioners said they struggled to make the lines make sense, keeping cities and counties in the same districts where possible and keeping the population close to equal.
Both sides called the plans fairly evenhanded, rather than attempts to skew the elections.
Using data from the 2000 census, Washington must be carved into nine congressional districts of about 650,000 people each. The 49 legislative districts must be drawn with about 120,000 people apiece.
"This is an intensely complex and political process, but it never loses sight of fairness,'' said Ethan Moreno, executive director of the commission.
The greatest changes are in the Yakima Valley, Clark County, the territory from the Canadian border to the King County line, Olympia, and the greater Puget Sound region.
Population growth, particularly in Clark County and northwest Washington, means some of the more urban areas, such as Seattle and Tacoma, are losing some of their representation.
The fate of the congressional district on the Portland area's west side will be at the center of a legal battle that begins today in Multnomah County Circuit Court over the makeup of Oregon's congressional boundaries.
The stakes are high for both parties as they battle for a partisan edge in the 1st Congressional District, which is held by Democratic Rep. David Wu. Nationally, Republicans are trying to hold a slim nine-seat advantage in the U.S. House, and Democrats want to retake the chamber they lost in 1994.
Republicans hold only one of Oregon's five House seats, and challengers already are eyeing Wu's seat in hopes the court will adopt a Republican-drawn plan.
Republicans, whose redistricting plan was adopted by the Legislature but vetoed by Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber, want to remove southwestern Multnomah County from the district. That corner of the county is a source of Democratic votes that has helped Wu hold the seat since 1998. Wu, who has a home in Portland's West Hills, was drawn out of the district by the Republican plan.
Democrats want the 1st District, which extends from west Portland to the coast, to remain largely intact. Their plan would keep downtown Portland and the West Hills in the district and put the Dunthorpe and Burlingame neighborhoods in the 5th Congressional District, which is represented by Rep. Darlene Hooley, D-Ore.
"It's not determinative, but if the Republican plan is adopted, it would make (the 1st District) much more winnable," said state Rep. Bill Witt, R-Cedar Mill, who has run for the seat twice and may run again. "If redistricting is helpful to us, it will certainly heighten the interest to support a Republican challenger."
Kitzhaber's veto in June left the existing boundaries intact, and lawsuits were filed challenging those lines. Circuit Judge Jean Kerr Maurer will hear the challenges starting today. She could choose either the Republican or Democratic plan, or a combination.
The boundaries must be redrawn every decade to reflect population changes. Each Oregon district must have as close to 684,280 people as possible.
The Republican and Democratic plans largely agree on the boundaries for the 2nd District in Eastern and Southern Oregon, the 4th District in the southern Willamette Valley and the 5th District in the northern Willamette Valley.
Although the 3rd District, which is mostly in Multnomah County, could face big changes, it would stay strongly Democratic.
Portland lawyer John DiLorenzo, who represents the Republican Party, says the GOP plan maintains "communities of interest," as required by state law, by keeping rural and suburban Washington County in one district. The portion of Multnomah County currently in the district has more in common with the adjacent Portland-dominated 3rd District, he said.
DiLorenzo also will argue in court that the Democratic plan would call for three districts to have pieces of Multnomah County, allowing Portland's interests to dominate the delegation's agenda.
Democrats will argue that Washington County has such tight transportation links to Portland that it makes sense for both to remain in the same district. They say Republicans redrew the 1st District lines to add more Republican voters, a violation of state law that says districts can't be drawn to favor political parties.
"It's classical political gerrymandering," said Michael Simon, who represents several Democratic plaintiffs. "There is no neutral principle to justify the drastic changes we see in the Republican plan."
Asked whether he'd run in his new district if the court adopts the GOP plan, Wu declined through a spokeswoman to comment.
But Republican-friendly lines aren't enough to guarantee victory over a two-term congressman with $552,000 in the bank to spend, Republican Party officials say.
"On any given day, any football team can beat the other football team," said Darryl Howard, executive director of the Oregon Republican Party. "This isn't going to be an easy task, no matter what the lines are."
You can reach Lisa Grace Lednicer and 503-221-8234 or by e-mail at [email protected]
The Oregon Supreme Court will hear arguments at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 3 on legal challenges to how Secretary of State Bill Bradbury redrew legislative districts. The parties and their main arguments are:
Sen Tom Hartung of Beaverton, John Betts of Woodburn, Jerry Mathern of Jacksonville, former state Rep. Jim Welsh of Elmira, Danele Welsh of Elmira. They allege that the plan favored Democrats in specified districts, including House District 22 from northeast Salem to Woodburn. Their lawyer is Paul Connolly of Salem, law partner of state Rep. Dan Doyle, R-Salem.
Danele Welsh of Elmira, and 59 others. They argue that Bradbury had no authority to write a plan because the 2001 Legislature approved one ó and it is not subject to a governorís veto. They also say the plan failed to follow county lines and existing legislative districts, and that each district should have the same number of people. Connolly is their lawyer.
Cletus Moore and Patrick Donaldson, both of Portland, and Scott Burge of Scappoose. They argue that Bradbury had no authority to write a plan because 1952 and 1986 ballot measures that changed redistricting requirements contained too many unrelated changes and violated the ìseparate votesî provision of the Oregon Constitution. Their lawyer is Kelly Clark of Portland, a former state representative.
Henry Kane of Beaverton and Clyde Brummell of Portland, two longtime critics of government. They accused Bradbury of abusing his discretion when he included parts of Multnomah County in 18 House districts, linked with parts of five neighboring counties. Kane will represent them.
Joe Fabiano, Sheridan mayor, and Yamhill County Clerk Charles Stern. They said the U.S. Census figure for Sheridan, used in the plan, erroneously excluded the population of the federal prison that is within city limits. Lawyers are Walter Gowell of McMinnville, and Assistant County Counsel Rick Sanai.
Rep. Jeff Kropf and former Rep. Liz VanLeeuwen, both Republicans from Halsey, and John Lindsey, Roger Nyquist and Cliff Wooten, Linn County commissioners. They said that by dividing Linn County among four Senate districts, the plan violates a constitutional requirement to follow county lines. Their lawyer is James Egan of Albany.
Charlotte Lehan, Wilsonville mayor; Bruce Barton, John Helser, Bennett Holt, Alan Kirk, council members. They said Wilsonville should have been put in a House district with West Linn in Clackamas County, rather than Tualatin in Washington County. Part of Tualatin lies in Clackamas County. Their lawyer is City Attorney Michael Kohlhoff.
Jim Goan, Eagle Point mayor and board member of the Eagle Point Sanitary District. He said Eagle Point should be attached to a district based in Jackson County, rather than House District 55 that extends east across the Cascades to Crook and Lake counties. His lawyer is Joseph Kellerman of Medford.
Robert T. Anderson Jr., Shady Cove mayor, and Elise Smurzynski, city administrator. They said Shady Cove should be attached to a district based in the Rogue Valley, rather than House District 55. Their lawyer is Larry Kerr of Medford.
Bryan and Valerie Platt, of Eagle Point, George and Nita Williamson of White City, Sharon Allsop of Shady Cove, Robert Lyon of Butte Falls, and Colleen Roberts of Prospect. They said their communities should be attached to districts based in Jackson County, rather than House District 55. No lawyer is listed.
Edmund Gray, Port of Brookings chairman, and Robert Hagbom, Brookings mayor. Like a couple of the suits above, they argue that Bradbury had no authority to write a plan because the 2001 Legislature approved one and because the 1952 and 1986 constitutional changes that give him the authority are invalid. Their lawyers are E. Andrew Jordan and Edward Trompke, both of Lake Oswego.
A suit also was expected from the city of Happy Valley in Clackamas County.
Secretary of State Bill Bradbury's plan to redraw legislative districts should be junked because it illegally and unfairly favors Democrats, a group of Republicans claimed in a lawsuit filed Tuesday at the Oregon Supreme Court.
The lawsuit, which lists five Republicans as plaintiffs, contends that Bradbury, a Democrat, arranged districts in such a way that Democratic candidates would have an overall edge across the state in the 2002 elections.
It also alleges that specific districts were aligned to pit incumbent Republicans against each other and to include Democratic voters in traditionally Republican strongholds. "It's obviously designed to elect Democrats," said Sen. Tom Hartung, R-Cedar Mill, one of the plaintiffs. "You don't have to be a math whiz to figure it out."
Also listed as plaintiffs are former state Rep. Jim Welsh, R-Elmira; his wife, Danele Welsh; Jerry Mathern of Jacksonville; and John Betts of Woodburn.
Bradbury's office denied playing favorites.
"Oregon law prevents us from using political data or using partisan results in drawing a plan," said Paddy McGuire, deputy secretary of state. "We didn't do it."
Redistricting -- drawing political boundaries for each of the 30 state Senate districts and 60 House districts -- is required every 10 years after census figures come out. The idea is to alter boundaries to account for population growth in some areas and reductions in other areas so that all areas of the state have equal representation in the Legislature.
Although redistricting may not mean a lot to most Oregonians, it is a hot subject among political parties vying for control of the Legislature. It was the cause of a weeklong boycott by House Democrats earlier this year when Republicans tried to bypass Gov. John Kitzhaber and Bradbury.
That approach failed, and Kitzhaber vetoed the Republican boundaries. The law requires the secretary of state to redraw the districts if the Legislature and governor don't agree.
Paul Connolly, the lawyer representing the five Republicans, said Bradbury messed up.
"We're asking the Supreme Court to order the secretary of state to revise the plan so partisanship and favoritism is eliminated," said Connolly, who also serves as an attorney for the Oregon Republican Party.
Connolly said that with the districts devised 10 years ago, registered Republicans held an edge in 16 of the 30 Senate districts and 31 of the 60 House districts. Bradbury's plan essentially reverses those numbers, he said, giving Democrats the advantage in 16 Senate districts and 31 House districts.
The lawsuit says Bradbury's plan also puts 14 Republican incumbents into districts with other incumbents. And it cuts nine Republican incumbents out of districts in which they had served.
Connolly questioned Bradbury's decision to put pieces of heavily Democratic Multnomah County in several suburban swing districts. The result is a dilution of Republican voting strength in Washington and Clackamas counties.
The new Senate District 17, for example, takes in a large chunk of Northwest Portland, along with Beaverton and voters as far west as North Plains. Districts are supposed to share "communities of interest," Connolly said.
"We don't believe there are any communities of interest between North Plains and north Portland, except for the word 'north,' " he said.
McGuire defended the plan, saying county boundaries aren't as important in the Portland area as they are in more rural parts of the state. Regional governments, such as Metro and Tri-Met, indicate a general willingness to transcend county lines, he said.
Republicans may be parsing the numbers a little to finely, McGuire said.
"There are 70,000 more Democrats in Oregon than Republicans, yet Republicans have managed to control both houses of the Legislature," he said. "If numbers were the only issue, that wouldn't have happened. Who wins elections isn't just about statistics, it's about who runs better candidates, who raises more money."
Connolly said this is the first of what could be a series of challenges to Bradbury's plan. The deadline for submitting challenges is Sept. 15.
Connolly said Bradbury made a mistake by departing radically from the boundaries already in place, instead of tweaking them to reflect changes in population: "He essentially wiped the slate clean and started anew." That goes against the approach taken -- and widely praised -- 10 years ago by former Secretary of State Phil Keisling, also a Democrat.
The secretary of state's office has acknowledged some technical foul-ups in the redistricting plan. However, they are relatively minor compared with the allegations in the lawsuit.
In one case, Rep. Chris Beck, D-Portland, and Rep. Bill Witt, R-Cedar Mill, were assigned one other's districts, a mistake that happened because of a math error, McGuire said. Other glitches in the plan included putting a federal prison outside the Yamhill County town of Sheridan instead of inside the city limits, a mistake that occurred because of incorrect census information, Bradbury said.
You can reach Harry Esteve at 503-221-8226 or by e-mail at [email protected].
Some legislators say justice and democracy are at stake in Oregonís redistricting battle.
In reality, few of Oregonís 3.42 million residents are up late worrying about the division of the state into 60 House and 30 Senate districts.
Thatís probably why the redistricting fight drew so few spectators ó and so little passion outside the Capitol ó as it reached a climax last week.
Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, a Democrat, released his final legislative redistricting plan Wednesday to a room packed with reporters, politicians, party staff and lobbyists. The rest of the building was empty, except for the normal number of state workers and tourists.
Of course, you wouldnít know the public was indifferent about redistricting judging by the fiery rhetoric from elected officials and political operatives.
Republican and Democratic leaders know control of the Legislature will be determined by the district boundaries used in next yearís elections.
Two Eugene Democrats are miffed because they were lumped in the same House district. Rep. Robert Ackerman, D-Eugene, said he may file a lawsuit to block the plan because one Eugene neighborhood was split among two districts.
Republicans are much more upset.
They allege Bradburyís lines are unconstitutional and overly partisan. Specifically, they say his plan will reduce the political clout of rural conservative residents and unfairly benefit Democrats, especially in Portland and Eugene.
House Majority Leader Karen Minnis, R-Wood Village, said Bradbury ignored ìcommunities of interestî statewide, including the Mid-Willamette Valley. She said he wrongly drew a House district linking Keizer and Newberg and another tying together northeast Salem and Woodburn.
ìSecretary Bradbury has forgotten he is no longer the Democratic leader,î said Senate Majority Leader David Nelson, R-Pendleton. ìHis responsibility is to all of the people in our state and his plan is shirking that very responsibility.î
Bradbury, who was appointed to the office in 1999 and elected to a full four-year term last year, assumed the redistricting responsibility July 1 after the Legislature and Gov. John Kitzhaber could not agree on a plan.
Bradbury rejects the criticism that his plan is biased toward Democrats but is bothered by criticism.
ìItís obviously frustrating to have people leveling the easy charge that itís partisan,î he said. ìItís an easy charge to say something is partisan. Itís a lot harder to put specifics behind it that you can really support and show itís partisan rather than following what the law requires. Iím not sure thereís much I could have done that I wouldnít still have been charged with partisanship.î
Bradbury says the plan is legal and predicts it will be approved by the Oregon Supreme Court.
Despite that, some legislators will ask the court to junk the plan and draw new boundaries.
Justices could order changes, but based on past practice, itís more likely voters will elect representatives and senators next year based on Bradburyís final plan.
That probably would suit most people.
Most Oregonians probably know the name of their mayor and city councilor. Some may even know the name of their school board members. But in the era of term limits, it takes real effort to keep track of oneís representative and senator. Far fewer people know ó or care about ó the exact boundaries of their House and Senate districts.
Only 470 people testified at the 21 public hearings Bradbury convened statewide on his draft plan. He also heard from 278 people in letters, faxes and e-mails ó hardly a huge outpouring.
Bradbury says he was recharged by the six-week redistricting process. Still, heís looking forward to some time off.
ìI would have loved to go do a couple of river trips on the Rogue River instead of spending my summer looking at computer screens in Salem, but now I get to go on vacation,î he said.
Most Oregonians would probably rather do that than spend time thinking about redistricting.
State Editor Richard R. Aguirre can be reached at (503) 399-6739.
The Oregon Supreme Court is empowered to decide the boundaries of House and Senate districts, which will shape legislative races for the next decade.
But elected officials and political observers say that based on recent history, the court is unlikely to do more than tinker with the proposed boundaries of the 60 House districts that Secretary of State Bill Bradbury filed with the court Wednesday.
ìI think itís highly likely that most of his plan will stand,î said David Buchanan of Salem, executive director of Oregon Common Cause, who has observed three previous plans dating back to 1972.
Buchanan said the justices might shift some pairings of House districts that form Senate districts, and renumber the districts. But he said it would take a spectacular flaw in the plan for the court to intervene and order major changes.
Bradbury was required to draw new lines for House districts, and pair them to form the 30 Senate districts, to reflect population shifts from the 2000 Census. Each House district has an ideal population of 57,023, and a Senate district, 114,047, but his plan allows deviations of 1 percent ó a standard approved by the high court in 1991.
Any voter can challenge Bradburyís plan by filing suit with the high court by the constitutional deadline of Sept. 15.
Republicans accuse Bradbury, a Democrat, of favoring his party by drawing districts that extend from the Democratic strongholds of Portland and Eugene into suburban and rural areas that lean Republican, like spokes on a wheel. They also take issue with how he drew other districts, including one stretching from northeast Salem to Woodburn and another from Keizer to Newberg, as dividing ìcommunities of interest.î
State law bars a redistricting plan from favoring any incumbent legislator or political party, or dividing communities of interest.
Republicans perceive Bradburyís plan as threatening their tenuous hold on the House, where they have a 32-28 majority over Democrats, and the Senate, where they have a 16-14 majority.
ìItís going to be tough to get changes,î said Senate President Gene Derfler of Salem. ìBut we have to try because thatís what our job is. I donít think thereís any question itís slanted to get more Democrats.î
But Rep. Dan Doyle of Salem, who spoke for the Houseís majority Republicans, said the high court is likely to give a lot of discretion to Bradburyís choices.
ìIt is an abuse of discretion that has to be proven ó and that is pretty significant,î said Doyle, a lawyer. ìWe would have to provide the evidence for the court to review. From a legal perspective, I can tell you that if there is not a glaring issue we can identify and prove to the court, then the plan will stand.î
Bradbury said under his plan, voters in the three counties of the Portland metropolitan area constitute majorities in 25 of the 60 House districts ó almost exactly the 25.3 they would be entitled to by population. He said Multnomah County voters would be a majority in 11 districts, Washington County voters in eight, and Clackamas County voters in six.
ìRepublicans do not have a friend on the court because of the appointments the last 20 years,î said Derfler, who has been a critic of the courts.
Of the six justices, two were appointed by Republican Gov. Vic Atiyeh, three were appointed by Atiyehís Democratic successors, and one was elected. But aside from Chief Justice Wallace Carson, a former Marion County circuit judge and state legislator before Atiyeh appointed him in 1982, the other justices sat on the Court of Appeals before joining the high court.
One appointment to the court is pending.
If the court finds that Bradburyís plan complies with the law, it must do so by Oct. 15, when the lines would take effect.
If it finds the plan is deficient, it has until Nov. 1 to specify how Bradbury must fix it. He then would submit a revised plan by Dec. 1, and the court would review it by Dec. 15, when the lines would take effect.
Voters changed the Oregon Constitution in 1986 to specify those deadlines.
The secretary of state wound up with redistricting after the Republican-controlled Legislature and Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber failed to agree on a plan by the July 1 constitutional deadline. An attempt by House Republicans to keep redistricting out of Bradburyís hands prompted a five-day walkout by House Democrats ó and Kitzhaberís veto of the Legislatureís redistricting plan June 28.
Bradbury said the changes he made after 21 public hearings around Oregon will ensure the legality of his plan.
ìIt is a legal plan, a principled plan, and a plan that responds to the voices of the people of Oregon,î he said.
Since Oregon went to a system of single-member legislative districts in 1972, instead of election by county or groups of counties, the Supreme Court has made few changes in two subsequent redistricting plans.
In 1981, the high court ordered Secretary of State Norma Paulus to fix a flaw in a legislatively approved plan that left one Portland district without a senator for two years. She did ó and drew out of his district a Democratic senator who blocked election-law changes that Republican Paulus sought during the 1981 session.
In 1991, the high court received five challenges to the plan by Secretary of State Phil Keisling, but none was filed by major political parties or legislative caucuses. The court upheld two, but the changes required Keisling only to shift some census tracts from one district to another.
Peter Wong can be reached at (503) 399-6745.
Secretary of State Bill Bradbury unveiled his final legislative redistricting plan Wednesday. It retains most of the provisions Republicans say unfairly favor Bradbury's fellow Democrats.
Bradbury heatedly denied he paid any attention to partisanship when he drew the new legislative lines to account for population changes over the past decade.
"I can tell you that I have not drawn a plan to specifically benefit any individual, an incumbent or a political party," Bradbury said. Instead, he said he made changes to his draft plan of a month ago as the result of testimony he received at 21 hearings across the state.
Rep. Dan Doyle, R-Salem, the assistant House Republican leader, said that although Bradbury made some changes Republicans wanted, the plan still appears to increase the number of districts that Democrats could have a good shot at winning.
Doyle, however, said it was too early to say whether Republicans would go to the Oregon Supreme Court in an attempt to overturn the plan. Any legal challenges must be filed with the court by Sept. 15, and the court has until Nov. 1 to order Bradbury to make any changes.
The process of redrawing legislative district lines has been closely watched by both parties as they look to see how it could affect the slim majority the Republicans hold in the House and Senate. Late in this year's session, House Democrats boycotted the Legislature for a week to avoid a Republican maneuver to keep redistricting out of Bradbury's hands.
The Legislature's redistricting plan, drafted by the Republicans, was vetoed by Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber, which by law sent it to Bradbury.
Perhaps the most disputed part of his plan is the decision to put slices of heavily Democratic Multnomah County in several suburban districts. While the county's population entitles it to 11.6 House seats, 18 districts would include at least some Multnomah voters.
"You don't have to look at the registration numbers to see the heavy influence he gave to Multnomah County," said Doyle, noting it would aid the competitiveness of Democrats in adjoining suburbs.
For example, a district represented by Rep. Bill Witt, R-Cedar Mill, is now largely in Washington County but would extend deeper into the west side of Portland with Bradbury's plan. Two other Washington County House districts also would include portions of Multnomah County. And a district covering most of Lake Oswego would have a significant piece of southwest Multnomah County.
Bradbury argued that county boundaries were less important in the Portland area, which he noted has a government -- Metro -- that spans the entire region.
Instead, he said he followed transportation corridors, neighborhoods and even three city boundaries that cross the Multnomah County line.
Bradbury did make some important changes to his draft in the Portland area to respond to complaints. Instead of parceling parts of Hillsboro among four districts, his final plan put it into two. He also kept King City and Tigard in one district.
Bradbury also stuck with his decision to create a district stretching from Salem to Woodburn that is about 40 percent Latino. Republicans objected to that, as well as to a neighboring district that ranges from Keizer to Newberg.
The secretary of state renumbered the 60 House districts in his final plan, mostly, he said, to produce more logical Senate districts. Each of the 30 Senate seats is made up of two neighboring House districts.
In other parts of the state, highlights of the plan include:
Continuing to put all of Bend in one district. However, the final plan puts almost all of Deschutes County in one seat and keeps neighboring Crook County in one House seat.
Separating southern Josephine County from a House district in Curry County after critics said residents in places such as Cave Junction should not be linked with the coast.
Having one Southern Oregon district that still crosses the Cascades. It includes Crook and Lake counties and part of Klamath and Jackson.
Unifying nearly all of Tillamook County in one House district. The draft plan split it in two.
Bradbury said he followed the principles outlined by his predecessor, Democrat Phil Keisling, who drafted a reapportionment plan a decade ago that was widely praised for its fairness. Bradbury said he kept cities whole when they could be contained in one House district and largely observed county boundaries outside the Portland area.
He also said he did not use any voter registration data and refused to meet privately with anyone outside his staff and legal counsel to discuss redistricting. He said he kept a record of whether he accepted or rejected every one of the hundreds of recommendations he received at the hearings.
"The lines you see before you today are my lines, and they are lines created in an open and public process," said Bradbury, adding that he was "100 percent confident" his plan would survive any legal challenge.
Bradbury does not play a role in Oregon's other redistricting fight -- redrawing the boundaries of the five congressional districts. That issue is in the courts.
A Multnomah County Circuit Court is set to hear arguments next month from lawyers representing the interests of the two major political parties. A federal district court panel retains jurisdiction over the case, however, and also could get involved in drawing the congressional lines. You can reach Jeff Mapes at 503-221-8209 or by e-mail at [email protected]
You can reach Jeff Mapes at 503-221-8209 or by e-mail at [email protected].
Oregonís first heavily Hispanic legislative district, stretching from northeast Salem to Woodburn, remains intact under the final redistricting plan Secretary of State Bill Bradbury released Wednesday.
But Bradbury redrew other districts, including several in Salem, in response to public testimony during the past month since he released a draft plan. One district links downtown and part of South Salem with West Salem but extends to Independence and Monmouth in Polk County. Another links central Salem with East Salem.
Republican Reps. Janet Carlson and Dan Doyle are in the same House district stretching from South Salem to Turner and Aumsville. The plan also moves Republican Rep. Cliff Zauner out of his current Woodburn-centered district and puts him in the same district as Rep. Tootie Smith, R-Molalla.
Bradbury also revamped portions of his original plan in response to criticism from rural residents. As a result, Bradburyís new lines drew some praise from Republicans, who said they were undecided about filing a court challenge to the plan.
ìThis is a very different plan from the draft,î Bradbury said. ìThe citizens of Oregon are the experts who helped me make these changes.î
To reflect population shifts from the 2000 Census, Bradbury was required to draw new lines for the 60 House districts and pair them to form the 30 Senate districts. Each House district has an ideal population of 57,023; each Senate district, 114,047. He has renumbered all of them, so they do not match those of current districts.
Bradbury got the task after the Republican-controlled Legislature and Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber failed to agree on a plan by the constitutional deadline of July 1. Disagreement prompted a five-day walkout by House Democrats ó and Kitzhaberís veto of the Legislatureís redistricting plan.
Doyle, who spoke for the Houseís majority Republicans, praised some of Bradburyís changes. But he also said Bradbury, a Democrat, went too far with districts that extend from the Democratic strongholds of Portland and Eugene into rural areas that lean toward Republican candidates. Meanwhile, Bradbury left Bend in its own district, rather than split as Republicans preferred.
Doyleís own district in South Salem became slightly more urban because Bradbury put Stayton and Sublimity into another district.
ìHe favored the urban side over the rural side when it is not justified,î Doyle said. ìYou donít have to look at the (party) registration numbers to see the heavy influences.î
But Doyle also stopped short of promising a legal challenge to the plan in the Oregon Supreme Court, which received it Wednesday. He said Republicans need more time to study it.
The deadline for filing challenges is Sept. 15, and the court must make new lines final by Dec. 15.
Sen. Peter Courtney, D-Salem, offered a different assessment of which party stands to benefit from the plan ó at least in the Senate.
ìMy position is that up until high noon we had the lead,î Courtney said. ìThen the Republicans caught up in the early afternoon and went ahead. Itís as simple as that.î
For his part, Bradbury denied being motivated by partisan politics, adding, ìI am 100 percent confident that this plan will stand up to any court challenge.î
Redistricting helps shape who represents Oregonians in both chambers of the Legislature ó and which party has political control and sets the agenda.
In a statement Doyle read for Majority Leader Karen Minnis of Wood Village, Republicans still object to a district that links northeast Salem, Gervais and Woodburn along Interstate 5, and another district that stretches from Keizer to Newberg. Bradbury proposed no changes in either district from his draft plan.
The Salem-to-Woodburn district, now designated as House District 22, has a 40 percent Hispanic population, the stateís highest.
Republicans said it splits Woodburn from Hubbard, even though they are close, and the Russian community in and around Woodburn.
ìChoosing to keep this district the same as in his draft plan is also one of the reasons the Keizer-to-Newberg district becomes necessary,î Doyle said.
But Frank Garcia Jr., director of the Oregon Latino Voter Registration and Education Project, said the Latino population is only one factor in justifying the district.
ìAs described in public testimony, there are a lot of different relationships going on between Salem and Woodburn,î Garcia said. ìThey involve workers, businesses and social services, not just ethnicity. If people want to challenge it, that is their prerogative. But we believe it will stand up under legal scrutiny.î
Bradbury also mentioned the strong testimony in support of the district during an Aug. 1 hearing in Woodburn, and the districtís linkage by I-5.
As for the Keizer-to-Newberg district, now designated as House District 25, Bradbury said Yamhill County had too many people for Newberg to go into a House district with McMinnville and nearby communities.
ìKeizer and Newberg are growing communities, not part of the major urban centers of Salem or Portland, with similar challenges,î he said. ìThey have a lot of shared interests, such as the Willamette River. So it makes sense to put that district together the way we did.î
Bradbury made changes to other Salem-area districts:
Senate districts consist of two House districts.
Republicans also raised questions about a large House district that crosses the Cascades, extending from Eagle Point in Jackson County through Klamath, Lake and Crook counties. They also said The Dalles should be kept in a mid-Columbia River district with Hood River and Cascade Locks, although the three cities are in separate counties.
Carlson is one of nine representatives, and six senators, whose home is in a different district under Bradburyís final plan.
But she isnít worried about being in the same district as Doyle. She said she preferred to seek a second term in the House, and Doyle would seek a Senate seat without an incumbent.
ìIím going to get stickers for my (campaign) lawn signs,î Carlson said. ìBut Iíll just have to wait to get them printed until I know what the district number is going to be.î
Peter Wong can be reached at (503) 399-6745.
A public hearing here last week revealed strong support for the creation of a state legislative district with a large and growing Hispanic population.
Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, who is in charge of redistricting, is proposing that a House district be created that would extend for 15 miles along Interstate 5 and connect northeast Salem, Gervais and Woodburn.
House District 33 would be about 40 percent Hispanic, giving it the largest minority population of any current or proposed legislative district.
Some Republican-elected officials and some rural residents donít like it, and they said so Wednesday night during a two-hour hearing at City Hall.
They told Bradbury that Woodburn should continue to be part of a district with the small, mostly rural, communities in Marion and Yamhill counties. They also said northeast Salem should remain in the same district as Keizer.
Some Woodburn residents testified that putting their city in a Salem district would reduce their clout. The representative they said, inevitably, would live in Salem.
However, most residents of the proposed district who testified favored Bradburyís plan.
Woodburn elected officials, including the mayor, a councilor and a school board member, said the city should be part of an urban district. They said northeast Salem and Woodburn already are linked by I-5, as well as business, education, politics and culture.
Hispanic residents were even more emphatic: they told Bradbury they want a district with a big Hispanic population.
ìThis district will give our people a voice,î said Lupe Diaz of Salem. ìWeíre here and weíre staying.î
Bradbury took over the difficult task of drawing new House and Senate districts ó to adjust for population shifts in the U.S. Census ó after the Legislature and Gov. John Kitzhaber failed to agree on a redistricting plan.
In drawing districts, Bradbury said he considered existing geographic and political boundaries and communities of interest. Even though Republicans disagree, the Democratic officeholder said he did not favor any political party.
Perhaps most significantly for Hispanics, Bradbury said he did not draw districts to dilute the voting strength of any language or ethnic minority group. Bradbury insists he did not attempt to create a ìHispanicî district.
But his proposed creation of House District 33 has touched off a fascinating demographic and political dispute.
At issue: The struggle of Marion County Hispanics for political self-determination vs. the larger war by Democrats and Republicans for control of the Legislature.
This type of dispute has occurred throughout the United States as the number of African-Americans or Hispanics has grown large enough to demand political influence ó and be perceived as a threat by the existing white-power structure.
Realistically, it would be hard for a Hispanic to immediately win House District 33 ó if Bradburyís redistricting plan is approved by the state Supreme Court. The districtís Hispanic voter registration rate likely would be less than 40 percent because of the large number of Hispanics who are not citizens or too young to vote.
Still, Hispanics would be an important constituency in the district and eventually could elect their own legislator. Just one Hispanic ó Sen. Susan Castillo of Eugene ó serves in the Legislature, but demographic trends indicate that situation will change: Oregonís Hispanic population doubled to 8 percent during the past decade, and is growing rapidly.
With population growth will come increasing demands by Hispanics for greater political power.
However, wherever and whenever a minority or immigrant group has grown and demanded power in the United States, there has been a backlash: Democrats and Republicans have tried to block minorities from winning office. Read the history books.
In the South for African-Americans and the West for Hispanics, lawsuits and federal intervention usually were required before redistricting plans were enacted ó and voting reforms passed ó that gave minorities a fair chance at being elected.
Oregon may avoid that ordeal; both Democratic and Republican leaders appear to be more concerned about other aspects of Bradburyís plan than House District 33. And neither party appears to view Hispanics as a political threat ó yet.
State Editor Richard R. Aguirre can be reached at (503) 399-6739.
The lines of a proposed legislative district linking Woodburn with northeast Salem will change little if Secretary of State Bill Bradbury follows the testimony given at a hearing Wednesday evening.
About 50 residents from Woodburn, Salem and points in between had a chance to tell the secretary what they think of his proposal to redraw legislative boundaries to fit changing populations.
Like many testifying, Jaime Arredondo supports a proposal to redraw House District 33 because it would have an unprecedented 40 percent Hispanic population.
ìWeíre at an important stage for the Hispanic community,î Arredondo, of Woodburn, said. ìItís important to unify the community and allow it to move forward. House District 33 is the best way to do that.î
The Woodburn hearing was the 17th of 21 hearings the secretary is holding across the state to gather information on his version of the new boundaries for state legislative districts. He said he will adopt a final plan by Aug. 15. However, his proposals can be appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court within 30 days. The lines become final on Dec. 15.
Redistricting is required every 10 years to adjust for population changes reflected in the U.S. Census.
Some came to oppose the district, which would separate Woodburn from nearby rural areas. Pat Turnridge, a South Salem resident who used to run a farm in Gervais, said farmers would lose an important voice if the current district is broken up.
ìI would submit that a fast-disappearing minority in this state are the rural and agricultural residents,î Turnridge said.
Sen. Roger Beyer, R-Molalla, whose Senate district would lose the Woodburn area under Bradburyís proposal, had a similar concern.
ìIt is very important to keep a Senate district that represents the rural, agricultural and timber interests in the Willamette Valley,î he said.
Woodburn Mayor Dick Jennings welcomed the plan, saying his cityís goals are no longer to be an agricultural center, but an urban one. Being linked with Northeast Salem would help Woodburn more toward that goal, he said.
ìIíd be happier than a clam at high tide if I had someone from Salem telling the legislature to improve our interchange out here,î he said.
Like others, Jennings expressed concern over the exclusion of the city of Hubbard from the proposed district. Many said the town, which is a mile north of Woodburn, is too closely linked with its neighbor to be represented by a different lawmaker.
Don Coss, owner of a Hispanic radio station in Woodburn, said the proposal recognizes the high growth in the Hispanic community, especially since the last census.
ìI have heard the voice of this community in the last 10 years, go from ëHowdyí to ëBuenas dias,íî he said. Third-generation Woodburn resident Anthony Veliz said the district does not give Hispanics a handout, but prevents the dilution of their votes.
ìWeíve struggled. Weíve worked our way out of the fields, into the classrooms and into the board rooms. Canít we just have one House district that can represent the needs of the Latino community?î
Tara McLain can be reached at (503) 399-6705.
The public hearing on Secretary of State Bill Bradbury's proposed legislative redistricting plan was one of 21 he is conducting throughout the state.
Bradbury, a Democrat, was charged with the once-a-decade task of redrawing legislative district boundaries after the 2001 Legislature failed to complete the job. His draft plan, which will be finalized by Aug. 15, must rely on 2000 Census data and a set of legal criteria to ensure that each of 60 House districts includes 57,023 residents; Oregon's 30 Senate districts should have 114,047 residents.
To accomplish this goal in Lane County, Bradbury has proposed what some called a "wheel and spoke" approach in dividing Eugene and outlying areas of Lane County into legislative districts. He has proposed two House districts in "the hub" of Lane County - House District 40 in north Eugene and the city of Springfield in House District 41.
Three other House districts would be created with boundaries that fan out like spokes, mingling urban Eugene neighborhoods with rural areas and bedroom communities.
House District 43, for instance, would include the neighborhoods surrounding the University of Oregon as well as Veneta and other rural areas south and west of the city. House District 42 would sweep like a horseshoe from southeastern Eugene skirting the city limits of Springfield and north Eugene. House District 39 would combine the Fern Ridge area and other rural enclaves north and west of the city with neighborhoods in the northwestern part of Eugene.
Deanna Kilger, a Veneta resident whose home would be in House District 43 under Bradbury's proposal, was one of several citizens who spoke out in favor of such a rural-urban configuration. She said it reflects the "common interest" between rural and small-town residents and the urban center where they work and shop.
"I think the plan is really great because it continues the rural and urban connection that has existed in our community since I can remember," said Kilger, whose family is active in Democratic politics. Her husband, Pete Kilger, was a Democratic candidate for the Legislature but dropped out because of health reasons.
Rarely did speakers mention underlying political interests in seeing that legislative boundaries create a mix of Democratic and Republican voter registration that would help one party or the other to control the Legislature.
One effect of revamping District 43 by including urban voting blocs surrounding the UO would be to convert it from a swing district with a 1 percent Republican voter registration edge to a "safe" Democratic district where that party would hold a 22 percent voter registration advantage over the GOP.
Bob Avery, a Junction City resident and the chairman of the Lane County Republican Party, was among the few speakers to mention such factors during Tuesday night's testimony. But since Bradbury is constitutionally barred from making redistricting decisions based on whether they would help or hinder a party or candidate, Avery and other speakers relied on other criteria, such as whether communities of interest are divided or kept whole.
"It's hard to imagine what the University of Oregon area has in common with Veneta," he said.
Registered Democrats countywide outnumber Republicans by 10 percent and that numerical advantage seemed to be reflected in the testimony as well.
Avery said he wasn't surprised that critics of Bradbury's plan were outnumbered by supporters, given Democratic domination in Lane County.
One such advocate, south Eugene resident and Democratic party activist Rosemary Batori, encouraged Bradbury to stick with his plan when he finalizes it.
"I say, give it a whirl," she told the secretary of state in her British accent, before acknowledging the applause with a proper curtsy.