Oregon's Redistricting News
The Oregonian: "Bills threat to Latinos'
civil rights, activists say." March 11, 2003
On Sept. 6, 2001, President George W. Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox talked of amnesty for undocumented Mexican workers as if it were a question not of whether, but when. A month before, the redistricting of Oregon had created the state's first 40 percent Latino state House district, in the Woodburn area.
Then Sept. 11's terrorist attacks happened.
Samuel M. Davila, the director of the Oregon Commission on Hispanic Affairs, says the fervor to increase security has undermined progress for Latinos and threatens their rights.
That's why -- even though his commission is slated to have its budget slashed next year -- Davila issued a statement last week targeting 10 state Senate and House bills that he deems a "crisis . . . that fundamentally threatens the rights and civil liberties of Oregon's Hispanic population."
The proposed legislation includes legal residency requirements for driver's licenses, a repeal of bans on local cooperation with federal immigration investigations and prohibition of farm worker strikes.
Sponsors of the bills say they do not target any ethnic group, but are necessary to ensure the safety of Oregonians or the stability of the state economy in uncertain times.
Davila said homeland security has too conveniently become a mask for anti-immigrant sentiment.
"It's turned us into a country of citizens who are extremely paranoid. . . . Hispanics contributed almost $4 billion to the state economy in 2002," he said, citing a University of Oregon study. "If we're looking for a way to derail the economy of Oregon, go ahead and pass these bills."
Last week, the Legislature voted to cut funding for the commissions for Latinos, blacks, Asians and women. For the Hispanic commission, that means losing an office space and Davila's full-time director position.
Davila said the release of the statement had nothing to do with the cuts. He's been tracking those 10 bills, many of which are in committees, as part of a weekly legislative update he sends to Latino community members.
"Our role until the last day will be to encourage Hispanic Oregonians to exercise their civic responsibilities and contact their legislators," he said.
One of the bills' sponsors, Rep. Donna Nelson, R-McMinnville, sits on the commission as a legislative representative. Her bill, House Bill 2554, would allow local law enforcement to cooperate with federal officers in collecting information on people who have violated immigration laws.
Her spokesman, Matthew Meador, said Nelson disagrees with the commission's interpretation of the bill.
"But she respects their position," Meador said. "The intent of this bill was not to harm the Hispanic community, or any other ethnic group. As far as civil liberties is concerned, there would be no other civil liberty without safety and security."
Rep. Betsy Close, R-Albany, sponsored HB2539, a similar bill allowing local-federal enforcement cooperation. She also said her bill "has absolutely nothing to with race."
"I don't believe the Hispanic population has anything to fear with it," Close said, "as long as they're following the laws of this country."
Francisca Leyva-Johnson, chairwoman of the Hispanic commission, said anti-immigrant sentiment has always existed, whether in proposed legislation or the public's views.
"Right now we have a situation that, because of Sept. 11, it makes it OK," said Leyva-Johnson, a program specialist for the city of Eugene. "Absolutely, we Latinos are moving backwards. We can't compete with the current climate."
Jason Leon, a commissioner, said the need for security is understandable, but lawmakers have not thought out the unintended consequences of these bills.
For example, local police departments will not be compensated for the time and staff needed to help federal officers with investigations. The driver's license bills would lead to large numbers of drivers on the road without proper identification or knowledge of laws.
"I see a lot of trouble spots," said Leon, the former head of the Democratic National Committee's Hispanic outreach office for Oregon. "I just have to wonder if they've thought these scenarios out."
Angie Chuang: 503-221-8219; [email protected]
Hispanic voters exercise little political clout even though they are Oregon's fastest-growing minority. Anthony Veliz is hoping that a Hispanic name � his � on the May primary ballot will help change that.
"Hispanic voters are not disenfranchised," said the 34-year-old Democrat. "They are disengaged."
Hispanics' opportunity to become a political force has come with the creation of House District 22, established under a new redistricting plan. The new district is about 40 percent Hispanic.
Veliz has announced he's running for the new House seat but is taking nothing for granted.
Oregon's 250,000 Latinos are the sixth-fastest growing population of Hispanics in the country. Their numbers are expected to grow to 500,000 by 2025.
"There's a voice there, and it needs to be enhanced in state government," Veliz said.
A Hispanic name on the ballot in the district could be automatically worth perhaps 10 percent of the vote, said Bill Lunch, a political-science professor at Oregon State University.
"There are 101 external factors," he said. An anti-Hispanic tone to the campaign or a ballot measure that appears to be anti-Hispanic could increase the Latino turnout, he said.
Hispanics make up at least 20 percent of the school enrollment in 26 Oregon towns and cities and 65 percent in Woodburn, where the kindergarten enrollment alone is 80 percent Hispanic.
According to state figures, school enrollment among Latino students has grown 8 to 14 percent each year since 1990. Latino students account for half of the new students in Oregon schools since 1987.
The only Hispanic in the Legislature is Sen. Susan Castillo, D-Eugene, who is running for state superintendent of public instruction.
Oregon has sent only a dozen minority candidates to the Legislature in 142 years of statehood, and none until Bill McCoy, a black Democrat from north Portland, won a House seat in 1972.
Voting has not been a priority or a tradition for many Hispanics. Voter turnout among Latinos in the Woodburn area, for example, is only about 11 percent.
"In the countries where we came from, like Mexico, we did not believe in the (voting) process, in the parties, in the candidates," said Juan Argumedo, who heads Voz Hispana, a grant-funded voter-education and registration project in Woodburn.
Argumedo said his group is telling young Latinos "you are eligible to vote, why don't you participate?"
Latinos come to Voz Hispana when they need help filling out forms. "They want to participate in the process but they don't know how," he said.
"There is a language problem. A lot of these measures in the Voter's Pamphlet are very complicated. We are focusing on getting this information in Spanish."
The stereotype of Hispanic families following the crops in rickety trucks and jalopies is becoming outdated. More and more, Hispanic families are settling in.
"Those who used to follow the crops are staying in Oregon, which is similar to areas that many of them came from such as the state of Michoac�n," said Gabriel Silva, director of the Oregon Commission on Hispanic Affairs. "Oregon compares very favorably when you consider the cost of living and minimum wage," the nation's highest.
Hispanics have come to Oregon in several waves.
"They came up from south Texas until the 1970s," said Ramon Ramirez, an immigrant-rights specialist with Northwest Tree Planters and Farmworkers United, a Woodburn-based union.
In the 1970s, a new wave arrived from agriculturally based states in Mexico. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 made them legal, and allowed their families to follow.
Up to 20,000 workers were needed for reforestation projects, so many of the immigrants who would have left after the summer stayed on to work as planters, thinners and cone collectors. The big boom in the nursery industry � now the state's leading agricultural commodity � provided even more jobs.
The 1990s brought immigrants from California who feared an anti-Hispanic backlash from Measure 187, which denied most state services to illegal immigrants.
Today, only about 30 percent of Oregon's Hispanics are migrant. Twenty percent are white-collar. Many of the remainder work in the service and construction industries. Three-quarters are under age 35.
Veliz in many ways is a paradigm of Oregon's burgeoning Hispanic population.
His parents and grandparents followed the crops, "Florida, Michigan, Idaho for potatoes, Washington for apples."
When he was born, the family settled in Woodburn, where he worked summers in the fields.
He went to college, got a master's degree and now heads the College Access Programs at Chemeketa Community College. He is on the Woodburn School Board.
Veliz plans to begin a door-to-door campaign in January, stressing, among other things, education and re-education to counter economic shifts that leave people with limited training jobless.
He noted the recent closures of two large food-processing plants in the area, which put hundreds of Hispanics, among others, on the street.
If he wins the primary he likely will face Republican Cliff Zauner, 67, running for a second term.
Zauner, a former radio-station owner, is retired. He won by a 57-43 ratio in 2000, aided by elderly voters.
A GOP decision not to appeal a judge's approval of a congressional redistricting plan means Rep. David Wu, D-Ore., will get to keep his largely sympathetic political base in Multnomah County.
The Republicans said Friday that a court battle would be too expensive and probably would fail.
The Republicans had hoped a court would adopt their own redistricting plan, which would have removed Multnomah County from Wu's 1st District and made his seat more difficult to defend. Judge Jean Kerr Maurer of Multnomah County Circuit Court adopted the Democratic plan, saying it did a better job of meeting a state law that requires keeping ``communities of interest'' together.
Republicans had claimed the district was drawn solely to protect Democratic incumbents such as Wu. Republican Party attorney John DiLorenzo concluded that since the redistricting kept the same general shape of districts, it was unlikely the Oregon Supreme Court would overturn it.
And he said the Democratic plan increases Republican representation in the 5th District curently held by Rep. Darlene Hooley, D-Ore.
The new redistricting leaves boundaries for the five congressional districts essentially as they were in 1991, the last time they were altered to reflect new census data.
Eastern Oregon's 2nd District remains heavily Republican and is held by Rep. Greg Walden, a Hood River Republican.
The 4th District, which Democrat Peter DeFazio has held for eight terms, could be up for grabs if DeFazio leaves office.
Most of east Portland will stay in the 3rd District held by Democrat Earl Blumenauer. However, for the first time Hooley's district will cross over into the southern edge of Multnomah County to include the Burlingame, Dunthorpe and Johns Landing neighborhoods.
The legal case began when Gov. John Kitzhaber vetoed a Republican plan that the GOP-led Legislature submitted.
The Oregon Supreme Court will have the last word on a legislative redistricting plan that changes two Mid-Willamette Valley districts slightly.
The revision was submitted by Secretary of State Bill Bradbury before Saturday�s deadline. The court has until Dec. 15 to make it final, and the boundaries of the new legislative districts will be in effect through 2011. They are redrawn every 10 years after a census to account for population shifts.
Oregon�s 60 House districts must contain as close to 57,023 people as possible, within 1 percent.
No public hearing is required.
The court ordered Bradbury in October to revise the plan after the U.S. Census Bureau erroneously excluded the 1,900-inmate federal prison from the Sheridan city limits in Yamhill County. The error created an imbalance in two districts.
To keep Sheridan and Willamina in a single district, Bradbury said, he removed them from House District 24 but extended the district into rural Polk County. Most of this district�s population is in Yamhill County, and it is represented by Donna Nelson, R-McMinnville.
Sheridan and Willamina were put into House District 23, which now takes in parts of five counties. Most of its people live in Polk and Benton counties, but the district excludes Independence, Monmouth and Corvallis. It extends to Jefferson in southern Marion County. It is represented by Lane Shetterly, R-Dallas.
The change was the only one the court ordered of Bradbury, who got the remapping job when the governor and the Legislature failed to agree on a plan by July 1.
Secretary of State Bill Bradbury is proposing four options for redrawing two House of Representatives district boundaries to correct an error by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Bradbury will hold a public hearing in Sheridan regarding the matter Nov. 15 and is accepting testimony on the proposed changes until that date.
The changes will affect Polk and Yamhill counties.
The Census Bureau erroneously assigned the federal prison population in Sheridan to a census block outside Sheridan�s city limits. That meant Bradbury was working with incorrect population figures when he sought to redraw area House districts to have equal numbers of residents.
Bradbury learned of the mistake after a deadline for completing redistricting, and he pointed out the error in a subsequent court appeal.
The Oregon Supreme Court on Oct. 18 turned down a dozen other appeals of Bradbury�s redistricting plan but ordered him to rectify the acknowledged error in House Districts 23 and 24, covering Sheridan and surrounding areas.
View the four options proposed by Bradbury.
A public hearing about the four options will be held at 7 p.m. Nov. 15 at Sheridan City Council Chamber, 120 S.W. Mill St.
Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.) tumbled down the GOP target list last week when a local judge shelved the party's efforts to pack Republicans into his Portland-based district.
Multnomah County Circuit Judge Jean Kerr Maurer rejected a plan adopted by the state's Republican-led Legislature and vetoed by Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) in favor of one put forth by legislative Democrats.
Specifically, the judge rejected Republican efforts to move Democratic-leaning western Multnomah County from the 1st district to the 3rd, meaning Wu will maintain his strong Democratic base in Portland.
You might think Oregon Democrats would dislike a redistricting plan that puts three of their four congressional incumbents in districts closely divided between Republican and Democratic voters.
But Oregon Democratic Party staffers popped open champagne to celebrate a judge's decision to adopt a Democratic plan that does just that.
That's because Democrats are confident that their incumbents can survive in politically marginal districts -- and that the judge's decision went a long way toward shutting down what they say was a Republican attempt to dramatically undercut the re-election chances of Democratic Rep. David Wu.
"We have to feel fairly good about a plan that preserves the current districts," said Jim Edmunson, the state Democratic chairman. "It certainly doesn't open the door to encouraging Republican challengers."
Multnomah County Circuit Judge Jean Kerr Maurer on Friday rejected a plan adopted by the Republican-led Legislature -- and vetoed by Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber -- in favor of one put forth by legislative Democrats.
Darryl Howard, the state Republican Party's executive director, said the judge accepted a plan drafted to protect Democratic incumbents. "If that's not corrupt, I don't know what is," he said.
Republicans say they still hope to mount strong challenges to Wu and Democratic Rep. Darlene Hooley, whose districts radiate out from the Portland area.
Brian Boquist, a Salem businessman, and Craig Schelske, husband of country music singer Sara Evans, are seeking the Republican nomination to oppose Hooley in the 5th District. State Rep. Bill Witt, R-Cedar Mill, is leaning toward running against Wu in the 1st District.
Republicans say they also will run hard in the 4th District if incumbent Democrat Peter DeFazio seeks the U.S. Senate next year. Edmunson admitted Democrats would have a hard time holding the 4th District if DeFazio left, but he said he's confident the congressman will run for re-election.
The redistricting plan adopted by the court essentially keeps the same general scheme for congressional districts that Oregon has had since the state gained a fifth House member after the 1980 census.
Most important, it continues to split heavily Democratic Portland at the Willamette River. Much of the west side still will be in the 1st District, which includes Washington County. The east side will continue to be in the 3rd District, which is represented by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, the one Democrat whose seat has an overwhelmingly Democratic registration edge.
A third House member will represent part of Portland for the first time. Hooley's district, which is centered in Clackamas and Marion counties, will cross the Multnomah County line to take in Burlingame, Dunthorpe and Johns Landing.
Republicans said that it made more sense to put all Multnomah County in Blumenauer's district. Their plan would have cost Wu a rich trove of Democratic votes on Portland's west side and tilted the district from a slight Democratic edge to a nearly 3 percentage-point Republican advantage.
Maurer seemed more interested in preserving the status quo. She said the Democratic plan "minimizes disruption" by moving about half as many voters to new congressional districts as the Republican plan would.
Portland attorney John DiLorenzo, who represents the Republican Party, said he probably would appeal the ruling by asking for a quick state Supreme Court review.
DiLorenzo said an appeal would include the argument that the Democrats violated state law by drafting a plan designed to "preserve their own electability."
He said testimony showed the National Committee for an Effective Congress drafted the Democratic plan. Mark Gersh, the director, said the Washington, D.C., group, which keeps a database of voter information and works closely with Democrats in Congress, did provide technical help.
But Maurer said she ignored the complaints of partisanship.
"This court places little importance on any of this testimony," the judge said. "It goes without saying that each of the plans works to the political advantage of the party submitting the plan."
Political lines began to emerge at Monday's public hearing on redistricting the city wards.
The Chamber of Commerce and other traditionally more conservative forces argued for a radical remake of the city's political map to make wards more compact and contained within geographic boundaries.
At the same time, more progressive voices were calling for the most conservative approach to redistricting, which retains some elongated wards, including those that cross the Willamette River.
And each is pretending to be impartial, Eugene resident David Monk told the council. "It's a fun one to spectate," he said.
The council is engaged in its 10-year-task of redrawing the eight city wards to make them of nearly equal population.
The 2000 census found 137,893 residents in Eugene, so each of the eight wards should have about 17,237 men, women and children.
The council has until Dec. 31 to finish its work so that Lane County elections officials can rejigger the electoral system to accommodate the new wards before the first ward-specific election in May.
The final decision will also mark the start of the campaign season. The primary election for four city council seats will be May 21 - and candidates are waiting to see where the ward lines fall before they file.
Councilors Gary Rayor, David Kelly, Gary Pape and Pat Farr are up for re-election. They may not be able to run in the same wards, depending on how the final boundaries fall.
Those arguing for a radical remake of the political map during Monday's public hearing said the council ought give no thought to the fate of incumbents.
The town has grown and changed too much for a slight redrawing of the boundaries, said Roxie Cuellar, director of government affairs for the Home Builders Association of Lane County. "Let's not politicize the process," she said.
But Jan Wostmann, chairman of the Neighborhood Leaders Council, made the opposite argument.
It appears some people want a major change in the wards to get rid of councilors whose political views they dislike, Wostmann said.
"Voters voted for certain councilors and have a right to be represented by them in the future," he said. "From that perspective, incremental change makes a lot of sense."
Wostmann and others said they favor a variation of proposed redistricting - dubbed "Violet" - that makes only modest changes to the status quo.
But Chamber of Commerce representative Terry Connolly said the most radical of five proposals - called "Indigo" - best meets criteria put forth earlier by the League of Women Voters.
The proposed wards are compact and close to equal in population, and the boundaries don't split up neighborhoods too much, he said.
Eugene resident Scott Bartlett urged the council to be slow and deliberate in its decision-making. "Be prudent, be fair, resist politics," he said.
Wednesday: The City Council mulls over previous testimony and is expected to zero in on several possible ward configurations. Meeting at noon in the McNutt Room, City Hall, 777 Pearl St. Information: 682-5071.
Nov. 14: Council discusses revised ward boundary proposals and suggests refinements. Noon, McNutt Room.
Nov. 26: Council vote on final boundary proposal. 8 p.m., Council Chambers, City Hall.
Dec. 31: The last possible day for the council to decide on boundaries.
May 21, 2002: The first election with new wards.
Oregon Democrats gained a political edge Friday when a judge approved the party's plan for redrawing Oregon's congressional districts to account for the 2000 census.
The victory was the second this week for the state's Democrats. On Monday, the state Supreme Court accepted nearly all the legislative redistricting plan proposed by Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, a Democrat.
John DiLorenzo, attorney for the Republican plaintiffs, said his clients will likely appeal the congressional decision. Federal courts could eventually step in to assure a decision before the March deadline for candidates to file for the May primary.
Republicans had proposed moving heavily Democratic western Multnomah County from the 1st District to the 3rd District, threatening U.S. Rep. David Wu, D-Ore. But Friday's ruling by Judge Jean Kerr Maurer protects Wu's political base.
``The district boundaries are only one factor in determining whether someone wins a race,'' said Oregon Senate Minority Leader Kate Brown, D-Portland, who helped produce the Democratic plan in the Legislature. ``But the way the Republicans drew the district, it gave them a leg up. I don't think anyone would disagree with that.''
Nationally, Republicans are trying to hold a slim nine-seat advantage in the U.S. House, and Democrats are eager to retake the chamber they lost in 1994.
The Republican party holds only one of Oregon's five House seats, and challengers hoped the court would adopt the plan written by Republican legislators.
State Rep. Bill Witt, R-Cedar Mill, is considering a third run for the 1st District seat.
He said the ruling doesn't make his decision any easier.
``I'm looking at several different factors there, and that's one of them,'' Witt said. During a recent meeting with national Republican leaders in Washington, D.C., Witt said, he was encouraged to run against Wu.
The redistricting plan written by Republican legislators would have given him a better edge, he said.
Both parties in the 2001 session wrote plans, but the GOP-controlled Legislature adopted the Republican one. Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat, vetoed it, leaving the boundaries untouched.
Both sides sued, contending their plans should prevail.
Judge Maurer said Friday the Democrats' plan disrupted the existing boundaries less than the GOP's plan and did a better job of preserving ``communities of interest.''
The Oregon Supreme Court had the last word.
Justices decided Thursday to end months of partisan debate over boundaries for Oregon House and Senate districts by leaving Secretary of State Bill Bradbury�s redistricting plan as is � with one exception.
Bradbury must adjust a district drawn with erroneous census data in Sheridan. He previously acknowledged the mistake and said he will fix it by December.
Otherwise, his plan, which reshapes the 30 Senate and 60 House districts, will remain intact � to the dismay of Republican leaders who say Bradbury drew lines to benefit Democrats.
Several incumbents were drawn out of their districts, including three local GOP lawmakers. Also, entirely new districts will influence future elections, including a new House district that joins northeast Salem and Woodburn into one heavily Hispanic district.
With a 40 percent Hispanic population, House District 22 has the largest minority population of any legislative district. It pulls Woodburn out of a traditionally rural district and lumps it with a more urban section of northeast Salem.
Supporters, including Frank Garcia Jr., director of the Oregon Latino Voter Registration Education Project, hope district voters will elect a Latino to the Legislature. Susan Castillo, D-Eugene, is the only Hispanic in either chamber and is barred by term limits from returning.
Garcia said there is more binding residents within the narrow 15-mile district along Interstate 5 than ethnicity. And he rejected continuing allegations the district was racial gerrymandering.
�I thought it would stand because there are a lot of other relationships and dynamics that stand between northeast Salem, Gervais and Woodburn,� he said.
Garcia said the decision is a victory for OLVREP, which has been working for a Hispanic district for six years. He hopes the victory will inspire Hispanics within the district to register and vote.
Anthony Veliz, a Woodburn School Board member and third-generation Woodburn resident, filed on Tuesday to run for the new district.
Redistricting is required every 10 years to keep the populations in districts balanced.
The Republican-led Legislature passed a plan earlier this year, but it was vetoed by Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat. The state constitution gives the secretary of state the responsibility to draw districts if the Legislature fails to pass a plan that wins the governor�s OK.
Thirteen challenges, almost all filed by Republicans, claimed Bradbury�s plan was unconstitutional. They alleged the plan favored Democrats over Republicans.
However, the Supreme Court ruled Bradbury�s plan met requirements of the law, even if it favored Democrats.
�The mere fact that a particular reapportionment may result in a shift in political control of some legislative districts � falls short of demonstrating such a purpose,� Justice William Riggs wrote in the court�s opinion.
Bradbury was pleased with the court�s decision, saying it affirmed that his plan was �a fair, balanced and legal plan.�
�It smells to high heaven,� said Darryl Howard, executive director of the Oregon Republican Party.
Howard said Bradbury and the Supreme Court ignored hundreds of comments at public hearings across the state by not adjusting his maps.
�I was appalled that the Supreme Court did what they did,� he said. �Basically rolling over and playing dead for Bill Bradbury and his cohorts.�
Sen. Gene Derfler, R-Salem, alleged he was drawn out of his current district by one block � a deliberate action. He was disappointed by the court�s decision.
�It shows we don�t have a lot of friends at the Supreme Court,� Derfler said. �When you have six Democrats and one Republican on the bench you don�t really expect much from them.�
Democrats, on the other hand, said the court ruling upheld the constitutionality of the plan.
�Basically, it affirms what we�ve been saying all along,� said Neel Pender, executive director of the Democratic Party of Oregon. �The Supreme Court upheld the secretary�s plan as one that followed the letter of the law and, more importantly, it�s fair to all Oregonians.�
Pender said the plan erases a 10-year GOP advantage in districts.
�With the old plan, we could run a perfect race with a perfect candidate and still not win because it was drawn to the Republican advantage,� he said.
Senate Minority Leader Kate Brown, D-Portland, said Bradbury�s plan helps Senate Democrats� prospects for taking over the chamber next year.
�We�re going to win, but redistricting is only one of the factors,� she said.
Senate Majority Leader David Nelson, R-Pendleton, said his party should not be counted out. Republicans already are looking for candidates for next year, and Nelson said a good candidate nullifies any political advantage.
�We�re only in the first inning of the ball game,� he said. �There might even be seven games.�
The one change required by the court stemmed from a 2000 U.S. Census error that placed nearly 2,000 inmates in a federal prison outside the city of Sheridan. The prison is within the city limits and the error skewed numbers enough to affect the placement of a district line around Sheridan.
Bradbury acknowledged the mistake and said he would fix it. He planned to hold a public hearing in Sheridan before redrawing the line, which will affect boundaries of districts 23 and 24.
Bradbury announced last week he will challenge U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith for a Senate seat next year. He made the decision after Gov. John Kitzhaber decided not to run.
On Thursday, Bradbury refused to speculate on whether the court decision will bode well for him in 2002.
The new legislative redistricting plan scrambles the election outlook for 2002. Local impacts:
Rep. Vic Backlund, R-Keizer, lives in and now represents House District 25, which includes parts of Marion and Yamhill counties. He wanted to seek the Senate seat now held by Sen. Peter Courtney, D-Salem. However, Backlund�s new Senate district now is represented by Sen. Charles Starr, R-Hillsboro, who will seek re-election if term limits are overturned. Backlund might seek re-election to District 25.
Rep. Lane Shetterly, R-Dallas, lives in and represents House District 23, which includes parts of Linn, Benton, Polk, Marion and Yamhill counties. He cannot seek re-election in the district unless term limits are overturned. He hoped to seek the Senate seat held by Sen. Cliff Trow, R-Corvallis, who is retiring. Shetterly�s new Senate district is represented by Sen. Gary George, R-Newberg, whose term will not end until 2005.
Rep. Jackie Winters, R-Salem, is assigned to House District 21. She had hoped to run for the Senate seat held by Sen. Gene Derfler, R-Salem. However, her Senate district is represented by Sen. Courtney, who will seek re-election if term limits are overturned.
Reps. Dan Doyle and Janet Carlson, both rookie House members from Salem, might be tempted to run for an open Senate District 10 seat. Both planned to run for a second term in the House, but they both now live in House District 19. Doyle is expected to run for the Senate seat and Carlson for the House.
Rep. Cliff Zauner, R-Woodburn, is assigned to House District 22, which includes northeast Salem and Woodburn. However, his current residence is in House District 18, represented by Rep. Tootie Smith, R-Molalla. District 22 will be an open seat unless Zauner moves and seeks it. Zauner�s plans are unknown.
Sen. Gene Derfler, R-Salem, is drawn out of his current district. He is term-limited and plans to retire even if term limits are overturned. Under the redistricting plan, Derfler�s residence is in the Senate District held by Sen. Gary George, R-Newberg.
Tracey Loew can be reached at (503) 399-6779.
The Oregon Supreme Court will tell Secretary of State Bill Bradbury to make at least one change in the legislative redistricting plan he submitted two months ago.
But the justices have until Nov. 1 to specify changes they want made.
The court let a constitutional deadline pass Monday without accepting Bradbury�s plan. Jim Nass, a court spokesman, said the absence of a court opinion Monday indicates that the court is preparing to specify changes in the plan.
�It would be speculative to say anything at this point,� said Kristen Grainger, spokeswoman for Attorney General Hardy Myers, whose office represents Bradbury in the case.
�You could assume that the court has found merit in one of the 13 challenges. But that is not necessarily the only logical conclusion.�
Thirteen suits were filed against Bradbury�s plan � equal to the combined number of challenges filed against plans in 1971, 1981 and 1991. One Republican-led suit contends that Democrat Bradbury drew district lines to favor his party. Other suits argue that the plan divided �communities of common interest.�
Some suits argue that Bradbury had no authority to draw up a plan because the 2001 Legislature passed one of its own that critics contend is not subject to veto by Gov. John Kitzhaber.
The court heard arguments Oct. 3.
After the justices specify what changes they want, Bradbury has until Dec. 1 to resubmit the plan. The court has until Dec. 15 to review those changes and declare the plan final.
One change Bradbury conceded in advance he will have to make involves Sheridan. Erroneous U.S. Census data, which the secretary of state used in redrawing district lines, excluded the inmates in the federal prison from Sheridan�s official population. The prison is within the city limits.
Spokeswoman Marian Hammond said Bradbury is prepared for changes.
�We went into this with some technical changes we were aware of and are supportive of fixing,� she said. �We hope that is what the court decides to say. We are still confident this is a fair and legal plan that follows all the criteria, and that the court upholds the substance of the plan.�
Peter Wong can be reached at (503) 399-6745.
The Oregon Supreme Court on Wednesday considered challenges to Secretary of State Bill Bradbury�s redrawn House and Senate districts, a case whose outcome could shape which party controls the Legislature for the next decade.
Attorneys for Republicans and various cities said Bradbury ignored county lines and other logical boundaries in crafting new legislative districts. Some charged Bradbury drew districts to help fellow Democrats get elected.
State attorneys countered that Oregon�s redistricting statute gives Bradbury broad authority to balance oft-competing criteria for drawing districts. They argued that there�s no evidence that Bradbury was motivated by partisan politics.
Oregon�s highest court must decide in a few weeks whether to uphold Bradbury�s plan or to order changes in House and Senate district lines. Many 2002 legislative campaigns are in limbo, awaiting the decision.
The Oregon Legislature started the redistricting process last spring, after 2000 Census results were released. Lawmakers squabbled for months over proposed boundaries, and the dispute led to a one-week walkout by House Democrats. After Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber vetoed the Republican-created redistricting plan passed by the Legislature, the job fell to Bradbury, a Democrat.
Bradbury insists that he ignored partisan factors, such as voter registration patterns, when drawing his districts, but critics dismissed that.
Paul Connolly, a Republican Party attorney, charged that Bradbury moved pockets of heavily Democratic Multnomah County into outlying suburban districts. The goal, Connolly said, was �to create Democratic districts or tossup districts where there weren�t any before.�
There was a �dramatic shift� in voter registration patterns in districts, contended Eugene Grant, mayor of Happy Valley in Clackamas County. �You can infer there was an illegitimate motive of partisan advantage.�
Other critics complained that Linn County was split into four districts, that Wilsonville was lumped together with rural Washington County voters, and that Eagle Point and Shady Cove were separated from kindred neighboring communities.
Legal precedents in redistricting cases are rare, since they only occurs after each Census.
The guiding state statute is brief, outlining a few dos and don�ts. The Legislature and secretary of state must seek to keep communities of interest together and respect existing boundaries and transportation links. Districts must not be drawn for partisan gain or to dilute a minority group�s voting strength.
Mike Reynolds, the state solicitor general representing Bradbury, said the secretary of state is obligated by law to consider those factors but not adhere strictly to each one in every boundary decision.
For example, Bradbury ignored the Linn/Marion county line to unite in one House district several Santiam River Canyon communities with similar interests.
By requiring the secretary of state to consider the criteria, Reynolds said, the law �implies there should be some balancing and some give-and-take.� Some of the criteria �might go by the wayside.�
Some Supreme Court justices noted the difficulty of making a determination that Bradbury didn�t consider all the criteria, or that he deliberately sought partisan advantage for Democrats. That allegation is the �heart and soul� of the case,� Justice Robert Durham said.
Critics are asking the court to elevate the political favoritism factor above the others, which the law does not allow, Justice Susan Leeson said.
Justice Paul De Muniz said he was troubled by evidence that many Republican lawmakers were placed in the same districts as other GOP incumbents. Justice Michael Gillette was skeptical that Bradbury, the state�s chief elections officer, was unaware of the partisan makeup of various communities, or the residences of elected lawmakers.
State attorney Erika Hadlock pointed out that Bradbury�s maps leave Democrats with more registered voters than Republicans in 32 of 60 House districts. That�s exactly in line with the Democratic Party�s statewide advantage over Republicans, she said.
Several Democratic incumbents also were placed in the same districts as fellow Democratic lawmakers, making it harder for judges to rule that Bradbury operated strictly along partisan lines.
After the hearing
After sitting through the 2 1/2-hour court hearing, Bradbury emerged with his characteristic broad grin.
�I�m as convinced as ever that we have a fair, balanced legal plan,� he said. However, he added, �I think it would be very unwise to speculate on what the court�s thinking.�
Connolly also was optimistic. �I think you may see, at a minimum, a couple of Senate districts being ordered changed,� he said.
Now almost done with the most critical job he�ll have as secretary of state, Bradbury said he�ll decide soon whether to launch a campaign for governor or the U.S. Senate.
The judges, on the other hand, might be spending much of their time as Bradbury has the past several months, pouring over Oregon�s political maps.
Steve Law can be reached at (503) 399-6615.
State Rep. Vic Backlund, a Republican from Keizer, figured he�d be waging a campaign for the state Senate right about now. So did fellow Republican House members Jackie Winters of Salem, Lane Shetterly of Dallas and Jeff Kropf of Halsey.
Instead, their plans for political advancement are on hold, along with those of many of their peers, because of two cataclysmic events for 2002 legislative candidates: a court ruling overturning term limits and new House and Senate districts proposed by Secretary of State Bill Bradbury.
Today in Salem, the Oregon Supreme Court will try to end some of the uncertainty by taking up 13 legal challenges to Bradbury�s redistricting plan. A chorus of critics � mostly Republicans � say that if the court won�t modify the Democratic secretary of state�s plan, it will give Democrats a helping hand as they try to wrest control of the Oregon Legislature from the GOP.
�Bradbury�s plan does a huge amount of damage to the Republicans,� said Paul Romain, a business lobbyist who contributes money to Democrats and Republicans. If Bradbury�s plan stands and term limits survive, he sees Democrats seizing control of the Senate next year with a healthy majority.
Tom Gallagher, another business lobbyist who aids candidates from both parties, agrees that Democrats get helped by Bradbury�s plan, regardless of his intent.
�If you look at the results, you could draw a conclusion that more individual Republicans got shafted than Democrats,� he said.
Backlund isn�t one of those Republicans jumping and screaming about Bradbury�s plan, though some might put him on the list of victims. The retired McNary High coach and social studies teacher figured to have a relatively easy Senate race next year for the Keizer and East Salem seat held by Democrat Peter Courtney, who was barred by term limits from running again.
Instead, Courtney filed for re-election after a Marion County judge voided the term limits law, in a realigned district with a stronger Democratic voting base. And Bradbury placed Backlund in a convoluted Senate district that skips Salem entirely. It stretches from Keizer to the outskirts of Hillsboro, taking in constituents from Marion, Yamhill, Clackamas and Washington counties.
�It would be difficult for one senator to represent such a broad variety of interests,� said Backlund, now resigned to running for his House seat again. Outside of Keizer, he said, �nobody knows me� in that district.
Winters faces a different dilemma. She intended to run for a Senate seat in South and West Salem because incumbent Republican Gene Derfler is barred by term limits from running again. But Bradbury�s reshuffling left Winters� district with more Democrats than Republicans, the reverse of before. And Winters might have to face Courtney, a popular Democrat, if appellate courts sustain the lower court�s term-limits ruling.
Shetterly had been an early favorite for the Senate seat held by Democrat Cliff Trow of Corvallis, who is retiring. And Kropf appeared to have a good shot at replacing Democrat Mae Yih, also term-limited, for her Albany-area Senate seat. Those two races alone could have flipped two Democratic Senate seats to the Republicans.
But Bradbury�s realignment placed Shetterly and Kropf�s homes in a Senate district held by fellow Republican Gary George of Newberg, who is in the midst of a four-year term.
Even powerful Senate President Derfler, should he choose to run again if term limits are ditched, was placed just outside a Salem Senate district and into George�s district. If Derfler, Kropf or Shetterly want to run for the Senate, they�d have to move or wait until 2004 and face each other.
Bradbury�s plan �doesn�t seem to pass the smell test,� said Annette Price, Derfler�s chief of staff.
Yet Republicans know full well that under the redistricting statutes, Bradbury isn�t supposed to consider where current lawmakers reside. Instead, he�s obligated to keep �communities of interest� together, respect natural barriers such as rivers and mountain ranges and prevent dilution of minority voters.
Bradbury previously insisted that he didn�t consider voter registration and other partisan factors when redrawing lines. Now he�s refraining from making comments while his plan is on appeal.
�The appropriate forum for responding is in the Supreme Court, in front of the lawyers,� said Marian Hammond, the secretary of state�s spokeswoman.
Bradbury�s defenders note that Democrats also took their lumps under his plan.
Four Eugene House members, all Democrats, were bundled together in two House districts, complained Rep. Deborah Kafoury, D-Portland, the newly elected House Democratic leader. Now she�s trying to work out deals so incumbent Democrats won�t have to face each other in next year�s contests.
�I don�t think Bradbury necessarily did any significant favors for the Democrats,� said Sen. Peter Courtney, D-Salem, a critic of Bradbury�s new Salem-area districts. �I hear all this weeping of tears and gnashing of teeth on the other side, but I just don�t see it.�
David Buchanan, co-author of the Almanac of Oregon Politics and director of Common Cause of Oregon, is skeptical of claims that Bradbury sought to help his own party.
�I think the science is vague enough that you could end up causing more problems than you solved,� Buchanan said. �The sum of it, when you look across the state, is advantages for some, disadvantages for others.�
Still, some objective factors suggest advantages for the Democrats.
Based on June voter registration figures, Republicans outnumber Democratic voters in 15 Senate districts, versus 13 where Democrats outnumber Republicans. In the other two districts, the parties are at parity.
Under the Bradbury plan, Democrats get a higher number of voters in three additional Senate districts, according to raw data supplied by the House Republicans. Democrats would outnumber Republicans in 16 Senate districts, versus 13 where Republicans outnumber Democrats.
There�s no comparable change in House districts.
Under Bradbury�s plan, 16 lawmakers no longer reside in their revised districts. Of those, nine are Republicans and seven are Democrats. Kafoury points to that as evidence the plan dislocates lawmakers in both parties.
But Gallagher noticed the impacts are more serious for dislocated Republicans. �If you trace out the Democrats, you don�t see the same chain of dominos you see in the Republicans,� he said.
For instance, two of the Eugene House Democrats can simply run for open Senate seats, if term limits are sustained. One Democrat already has moved to live inside his new boundaries.
Still, when the courts finally rule and the dust settles for term limits and redistricting, control of the Legislature will be decided in the same battlegrounds as before, Gallagher said � the swing suburban seats outside Portland area and the Salem area.
Steve Law can be reached at (503) 399-6615.
The Oregon Supreme Court will hear 13 challenges to the legislative redistricting plan drawn up by Secretary of State Bill Bradbury.
Lawyers for the challenges will have 45 minutes, as will the state, to argue their points to the court at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. The session is scheduled to be broadcast live by Legislative Media Systems on cable-access channels in Salem and Portland and on the Web.
The court has until Oct. 15 to dismiss the suits and uphold Bradbury�s plan, or it must specify by Nov. 1 what changes Bradbury must make in the plan. The court will review those changes at a hearing later, and the lines must be final by Dec. 15.
The total of 13 challenges equals the combined number filed against plans in 1971, 1981 and 1991.
One was filed by Portland lawyer Eugene Grant on behalf of himself and 145 other residents of Clackamas County, including former state Rep. Jane Lokan, a Republican from Milwaukie who has filed for the Senate, and Marjorie Hughes of Oregon City, former Oregon Republican Party executive director.
They contend that Bradbury�s plan divided �communities of common interest� by drawing districts that link parts of Clackamas County, including Happy Valley and Milwaukie, with Multnomah County. Their arguments echo those in some other suits.
The other was filed by Donna McDonnell of Sunriver, who said her community should be linked with Bend, LaPine and southern Deschutes County rather than lumped with all of Deschutes County outside Bend. Bradbury�s plan Bend in a single House district.
As in other lawsuits, McDonnell contends that Bradbury had no authority to draw up a plan because the 2001 Legislature passed one of its own that the lawsuits contend is not subject to veto by Gov. John Kitzhaber.
Bradbury got the task after Republican legislative majorities and the Democratic chief executive failed to agree on a plan.
Bradbury will be represented by Solicitor General Michael Reynolds, who represents the state in appellate court proceedings, or a designated lawyer.