Pasco mulls asking to keep city in 1 legislative district

Pasco may ask the state's redistricting commission to keep the city in a single legislative district.

The city council discussed Monday whether it should comment on the proposed plans.

Of the plans suggested by the commission's voting members, the two suggested by Slade Gorton and Tom Huff would split Pasco and Franklin County between districts 9 and 16, said Stan Strebel, Pasco's deputy city manager.

The plans created by Tim Ceis and Dean Foster would keep Pasco and Franklin County in the 9th District.

Each voting member of the commission drew a proposed map using the 2010 U.S. Census to reconfigure the state's 49 legislative districts to make them about equal in population.

The commission is accepting public comments on the four plans -- as well as 21 independent third-party proposals -- through Oct. 11. A final redistricting plan is expected to be released in early November.

Having two districts in the Tri-Cities is beneficial because it doubles the representation, said Pasco City Manager Gary Crutchfield. But if Pasco is split into two districts, with three total in the Tri-Cities, the city would have less influence in the district when city officials talk to legislators and when city residents vote on district representation, he said.

Councilwoman Rebecca Francik said she can't see why the city should be split in two among legislative districts.

Pasco Mayor Matt Watkins said he prefers Ceis' plan, which would have the 9th District include all of Franklin County, part of Benton County, including Prosser and Benton City, Grandview and Mabton in Yakima County and Othello and Mattawa.

The main difference between Ceis' plan and Foster's plan is that with Foster's plan, the 9th District would not include any of Yakima County and instead would include all of Benton County except Kennewick, Richland and West Richland, which would be in the 8th District in both plans.

Councilman Al Yenney said he wanted to research the issue more before making a decision.

The council may decide on what to comment on to the commission next week.

Also Monday:

w City staff will look into corridor improvements on Oregon Avenue between Highway 395 and Ainsworth Avenue.

Ahmad Qayoumi, city public works director, said an added turn lane on the four-lane road could help make left-hand turns safer. The plan also could include adding sidewalks and landscaping.

Crutchfield said the project could foster development on vacant properties along Oregon Avenue.

Possible developments on three vacant parcels along Oregon Avenue started the discussion of corridor improvements, Qayoumi said.

-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; kpihl@tricityherald.com