Sent to the Whatcom County Districting Committee
April 15, 2016, by Dylan Richardson
Subject: Political Packing
Hello, members of the districting committee, and districting master,
My name is Dylan Richardson, and I live in precinct 181. I testified at the districting committee’s public hearing on April 13th regarding political packing. This topic has been brought up several times, and I would like to further comment, especially to the Districting Master, Dr. Ypma, in the event that any amendments are submitted to him with this as a justification. I appreciate you all hearing me out last Wednesday evening, and I won’t repeat the entirety of my comments, but I will summarize my testimony.
It is impossible, mathematically and demographically, for 70% of the Republicans in Whatcom County to be packed into one district, as committee member Mark Nelson clearly stated on multiple occasions and over multiple meetings, as that would require the county’s Republican population to represent only 16% of the voting populace. That is clearly not the case, as that would show they were not a significant enough of a party in this county to have any representation on this committee. The reality is that, of the roughly 12 thousand voters in the proposed Farmland district, approximately 70% of them voted for the Republican endorsed candidate in the last county council election, representing about 32% of the Republicans who live in Whatcom County.
In response to my testimony, Mark Nelson stated in the last few minutes of the hearing:
“… In addition to the gentleman that thought that I had stated that 70% of the Republicans lived in the Farmland. I don’t believe I ever made that comment. I said that there may have been 70% Republicans in that particular district, that’s all. And so, vigorously attacking a position I never held is always interesting, but not productive.”
This comment was contrary to my recollection of these meetings, so I checked the recorded audio and minutes and would like to submit the following.
“One of the things that the state law says, if we cannot reach a quarry (sic) […] the “Donovan machine map” […] having Lynden in one of the districts, and having Sumas, Everson and Nooksack as a community of interest out in the east county is really dominant with me. I do not want to see us packing 75% of the Republicans in one of the districts, which is effectively what the “Donovan innocent map” did[…]” – Mark Nelson, March 7, 2016
Recorded in the minutes as: “Nelson stated […] Having Lynden in one district and having Everson, Nooksack, and Sumas as communities of interest in the east county is his dominant concern. Don’t pack 75 percent of the Republicans into one of the districts, which is what the Donovan map would do.”
These sentiments were repeated in the March 14, 2016 meeting, from the minutes:
“Nelson stated Nooksack and Everson must be in the same district because they are comingled communities. Packing is illegal at all governmental levels. Mr. Estes and Ms. McShane are deliberately attempting to pack all the Republicans into the same districts.”
So, to recap:
Mark Nelson, 3/7: “I do not want to see us packing 75% of the Republicans in one of the districts, which is effectively what [this map] did.”
Mark Nelson, 4/13: “To the gentleman that thought I had stated that 70% of the Republicans lived in the Farmland, I don’t believe I ever made that comment.”
I believe it is disingenuous to represent any of these comments as meaning Mark Nelson took issue with 70% of the voters in the Farmland district voting for Republican candidates, primarily as that would not be an example of packing, which is the term he used to describe this imagined problem. I hope the members of this committee will keep this in mind if any amendments are submitted to Dr. Ypma under the false idea that any precincts should be moved around to remove discrimination against either political party.
Note: On Wednesday, April 13, 2016, the Public Hearing for the Whatcom County Districting Final Map Proposal was held at Whatcom County Council Chambers in Bellingham, Washinghton. In the November 2015 Whatcom County election, voters approved both a proposition (Proposition 1) to institute district only voting in order for voters to be able to elect specific county representatives local to particular communities of interest and a proposition (Proposition 9) that provided for an increase from three to five districts which were proposed to do a better job of creating voting districts that actually contain areas of county residents with similar interests and goals. The November 2015 Voters’ Pamphlet, which each voter received in the mail, described to people details of how these communities of interest would be achieved in regards to the five district proposal.