Legislature approves state redistricting maps

Linn County residents east of Albany will find themselves in a new congressional district and a new state senatorial district, and with a new state house district number following approval of redistricting maps by the Democrat-controlled Legislature last week. 

The maps were approved as a court-imposed deadline loomed Monday, Sept. 27. The Democratic super-majority in Salem voted along mostly party lines to redraw the congressional and state senate and house districts for the next 10 years, mostly in their favor. 

The maps realign the state’s legislative districts for the next 10 years and add a sixth congressional district to the state. 

Both the congressional and state maps must be finalized one month before March 8, 2022, the deadline for filing for the May 17, 2022 primary election. 

Republican members complained throughout the process that the Democrats were pressing their advantage, adjusting lines to maximize their advantage in both houses and in Oregon’s congressional delegation. 

Republican members on Saturday, Sept. 25, refused to attend a House floor session to address the maps, but on Monday GOP members arrived in Salem to establish a quorum, allowing Democrats to pass their proposals on the last possible day. 

They and some Democrats accused  House Speaker Tina Kotek of reneging on a deal she’d made earlier, promising Republicans an equal say on the House Redistricting Committee, which would have given the GOP veto power over proposals it believed were unfair. 

Rep. Brian Clem, a Salem Democrat, who earlier announced he would not be running for re-election next year, was quoted by Oregon Public Broadcasting as criticizing Kotek: “You cannot go back on your word,” Clem said. “It was supposed to be bipartisan or nothing. The change in the process is more than I can stomach… This is not OK and I just can’t dignify it with my vote.”

The legislature completed its deliberations and Gov. Kate Brown signed off on the maps just before the deadline for completion, late on Sept. 27. The Oregon Supreme Court had set a midnight deadline to complete the process, which had fallen behind schedule due to U.S. Census Bureau delays. 

The new maps move Sweet Home and most of rural Linn County from house district 17 to District 11, which will still be represented by freshman Rep. Jami Cate of Lebanon.  

However, most of central and southern Linn County will move out of Sen. Fred Girod’s 9th District into District 6, represented by Sen. Lee Beyer of Springfield, which will combine the rural sections of Linn and Lane counties, excluding Albany and Eugene. 

The congressional map moves Linn County out of Peter DeFazio’s District 4, which now includes Lane and Benton counties, and the coastal counties from the California border north to the Lincoln-Tillamook county line. 

Linn County moves into District 5, represented by Democrat Kurt Schrader, which will include all of Linn, Marion and Clackamas counties. 

Both Girod and Cate opposed the maps, which are subject to appeal. 

Chief Justice Martha Walters of the Oregon Supreme Court set the appeals process in motion for the congressional plan Sept. 28 when she signed an order naming five retired circuit judges who will sit on a special panel to review appeals.

To learn more about the appeals process, visit http://www.oregoncapitalinsider.com and click on the headline “Appeals differ for congressional, legislative redistricting.”

– The New Era Staff