Bickleton likes its district, doesn't want to switch

Yakima Herald-Republic (WA) - Tuesday, January 31, 2012


State Sen. Jim Honeyford wants Bickleton. And Bickleton, it seems, wants Honeyford. 

The veteran Sunnyside lawmaker would like the small Klickitat County community returned to his 15th District. Bickleton, along with the rest of Klickitat, Skamania and parts of Clark County, were swept into the 14th District when the state Redistricting Commission redrew legislative and congressional district boundaries Jan. 1. 

“I know them. They know me. They have been happy with me,” said Honeyford, who added that Bickleton is more aligned with the 15th District because residents shop in the district and sports teams play other schools within the 15th District, including Sunnyside Christian and the Yakama Tribal School. 

Honeyford, who has served 17 years in the Legislature, is likely to find out Wednesday whether his wish will come true. 

The state Senate is expected to vote on a House-passed bill that made minor tweaks to the boundaries to conform to precinct boundaries, according to state Rep. Bruce Chandler, R-Granger, also a 15th District lawmaker. Under the new boundaries, the 15th District includes the city of Selah and parts of Yakima County. 

Honeyford plans to seek an amendment to the House bill to switch Bickleton back to his district. 

Honeyford conceded his effort is a long shot, but one that is worth the effort. 

“They are good people,” he said. “I have worked with them and I would like to continue working with them.” 

State lawmakers have very little leeway to make changes to the plan adopted by the state-appointed commission, which reviews boundaries after each Census. 

Lawmakers can make changes to no more than 2 percent of the population of any given district. 

That’s an easy fit in Bickleton’s case. The change, Honeyford said, involves a total of 78 people. The district currently has a population of 137,199. 

Yakima County commissioners chimed in Monday — at Honeyford’s request — with a letter urging lawmakers to adopt the amendment and redraw district lines to return the community to Honeyford’s district. 

Honeyford said he is awaiting a petition from the Bickleton area that also asks for the change. 

Chandler said the amendment and any others approved by the Senate would then go back to the House of Representatives for concurrence. 

Chandler said area lawmakers are working with the House leadership to gain their support for the amendment. 

The Legislature has until Feb. 9 to act on the redistricting plan, when it becomes law.