May 22, 2024

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From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

Republicans criticize ‘pizza slices’ in latest Oregon Congressional maps

6 min read
With a Sept. 27 deadline looming, the Oregon House considered a new map that significantly changed Congressional Districts 3 and 5.

With a Sept. 27 deadline looming, the Oregon House considered a new map that significantly changed Congressional Districts 3 and 5.

The Oregon House considered a new Congressional District map on Saturday. Districts Three and Five saw significant changes. Describing those districts, Committee Chair, Representative Andrea Salinas.

[00:00:14] Rep. Salinas: For Congressional District Three, and this district has changed pretty significantly, we have Hood River County, portions of Multnomah County, and portions of Clackamas County. And the transportation connections are US-26, I-84, OR-35, and city roads. And the boundaries utilized are the county lines, the Portland City Boundary and the Willamette River. This district has a population of 706,209, and it is also contiguous.

For Congressional District Five, we have portions of Linn, portions of Clackamas, portions of Marion and portions of Deschutes counties. The transportation connections are I-5, I-205, OR-22, OR-226, US-20, OR-99E, OR-213, OR-224, OR-43, OR-212, OR-126, and US-97. And the boundaries utilized are county lines, Woodburn city boundary, Tualatin city boundary, Wilsonville city boundary, and then the transportation boundaries I-5 and OR99E. With a population of 706,209, the Congressional District Five is contiguous, according to ESRI. Representative Boshart Davis.

[00:01:42] Rep. Boshart Davis: Does this map divide Multnomah County into three different congressional districts?

[00:01:48] Rep. Salinas: Yes, I believe that is the case.

[00:01:50] Rep. Boshart Davis: And also noting, sorry. Follow up, Madam Chair?

[00:01:53] Rep. Salinas: Follow-up.

[00:01:55] Rep. Boshart Davis: Thank you. I’m just noticing here. The four, there are four districts, I believe, One, Three, Five, and Six, that appear to kind of ‘pizza-slice’ into the greater Portland area there.

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[00:02:11] Rep. Salinas: I wouldn’t say you can characterize it as pizza-slice, but thank you for the question. It, Congressional District Six does include portions of Portland that are within Washington County. Follow up question?

[00:02:25] Rep. Boshart Davis: No, thank you. Madam Chair. We’ll be interested to hear of communities of common interest as you follow up with that next.

[00:02:32] Rep. Salinas: CD three took public testimony into account from advocates who really advocated for the north and Northeast Portland neighborhoods to reunite into District Three—uniting historically black neighborhoods with culturally specific businesses, places of worship with a growing black population in East County that was due to gentrification, was something we heard a lot about in testimony.

So District Three now contains just Hood River County, the Mount Hood area in Clackamas County and the east side of Portland and testimony reflected that Hood River made sense to include in District Three. So instead of splitting up Wasco County in a congressional district, the Wasco County goes into CD 2.

And we took seriously the need to keep communities of common interests together, like we’ve done with the Columbia Gorge in Congressional District Three. The Gorge stretches from Troutdale in Multnomah County to Hood River in Hood River County and shares important, natural geographical, economic, cultural, and commerce ties. Um, and Lara Dunn, who is somebody who testified from Hood River, stated that culturally speaking, Hood River is more like a small city than rural areas. We share common industries and many economic and cultural similarities, which more closely resembled those of our state’s urban communities, and are connected to Portland in many ways. Um, the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office depends on Multnomah County in a lot of ways. Multnomah County Search and Rescue is frequently called out to Mount Hood and the Gorge to help people get back to safety. And Hood River telecommuters and commuters travel back and forth to and from Portland and Hood River.

Congressional District Five now includes the Deschutes County communities of Sisters, Tumalo, Redmond, Bend, and Sunriver. These communities are connected to the rest of District Five via U.S. 20 and Oregon Highway 22. This new proposal reflects the input from again, public testimony that Jefferson and Wasco counties should be in district two. And Bend and Deschutes communities could be joined with Marion and Linn counties. Bend and Redmond are united. Redmond is the regional airport and travelers and telecommuters utilize that airport. They’re together in a state Senate district and always have been. So it’s important to connect rural Clackamas and Marion counties as we recover from last year’s wildfires and prepare for more wildfire mitigation in the future. And these areas were the most badly damaged in last year’s Labor Day fires, and will be recovering for years to come.

This district dips into Portland lots of people commute between Portland and the suburbs that are in Congressional District Five and PSU’s population data shows that people living in Clackamas County commute more often to Multnomah County for work than actually stay in Clackamas County for their jobs. Representative Boshart Davis.

[00:05:29] Rep. Boshart Davis: Thank you. Madam Chair. I would say, and listening to the pieces of public testimony that you chose to listen to, I do want to, in looking over the summaries of all of the congressional districts throughout written testimony or throughout public testimony, the overwhelming number one piece of testimony that we received was this: Portland should not share a district with rural coastal areas to the west. There were 76, over 76 pieces of public testimony to ask us, to beg us not to do that. I see specifically in Congressional District One that that did not happen. It appears that that was not listened to, I’m glad that there was one person that said that it should be that way, but the overwhelming response from the public was to not bring Portland in with those areas on the Northwest coast. Is there a reason that that was not listened to?

[00:06:32] Rep. Salinas: Thank you for your comment. Representative Boshart Davis. So, even though I pulled out one piece of testimony does not mean it was the only piece of testimony stating that those connections be made. And as as the committee members know, there are tradeoffs that you have to make amongst the five criteria when trying to draw these districts. Representative Boshart Davis.

[00:06:53] Rep. Boshart Davis: Thank you Madam Chair. And thank you for going over the map so that the public can take a look at what we have in front of us. At the end of the day, this is the same outcome. Maybe just a little bit more dressed up than the previous blatantly gerrymandered map that was in front of Oregonians. At the end of the day, this map technically moves things around. But analysis has already shown that this is an overwhelmingly Democrat majority map that doesn’t serve Oregonians. And at the end of the day, there’s still four out of six of these districts touch Portland. And at the end of the day, this continues to fail the fairness test. I believe that this protected incumbents and I believe that this is still a pizza slice gerrymander, that’s just a little bit more dressed-up. And I think the Oregonians deserve a lot better than the map that we see in front of us. Thank you, Madam Chair.

[00:07:51] Rep. Salinas: Thank you for those talking points, Representative Boshart Davis.

So as we close out here this morning, at the end of the day, we are elected to represent our constituents and do our jobs. And I do hope that despite whether or not you believe that this is a map that is fair or not, I do hope that you will, both my committee members will, show back up so that we can vote on it because that ultimately is what we are here to do. And you can clearly state your protests through a no vote. But I do hope that you will show up and make sure that your voice is heard on behalf of those that you represent.

[00:08:33] John Q: The next session is scheduled for Monday morning.

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