The King County Council on Tuesday appointed the first four of five members to the 2021 King County Districting Committee. The committee will redraw the boundaries for King County Council districts using 2020 census data in a process that runs parallel to state and federal redistricting.
“While other governments in our country see extremes of division and gerrymandering, I’m proud that King County is putting the interests of our residents ahead of partisanship and creating a redistricting committee that will elevate fairness and truly inclusive representation,” Council Chair Claudia Balducci said. “These four committee members represent a high level of skill and civic engagement, as well as the diversity of opinions and backgrounds that reflects the best of King County. I want to thank each of them for their dedication to ensuring all county residents are represented fully via this once-in-a-decade districting process.”
The four members are:
- Sophia Danenberg leads international environmental policy analysis in Global Enterprise Sustainability at The Boeing Company. She also volunteers on the boards of NatureBridge, the National Institute of Reproductive Health, on the legislative and public affairs committee for the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), and as a Washington State Parks and Recreation Commissioner. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in environmental sciences and public policy and was a Fulbright Fellow in econometrics at Keio University in Tokyo. Outside of work, she is an avid climber, hiker, and mountaineer, and in 2006 became the first African-American to summit Mount Everest.
- Paul Graves served as state representative for East King County from 2017-2019. A lawyer committed to protecting the vulnerable, Paul has devoted a substantial part of his career to representing foster youth for free in court proceedings; for his work he was named the pro bono attorney of the year by King County’s leading foster youth advocacy organization. Born and raised in Maple Valley and now living in Newcastle, Paul is excited to serve his county on the redistricting commission.
- Cherryl Jackson-Williams believes in centering equity in the decision-making process. As a result, she observes how decisions impact our most vulnerable community members and works in collaboration with others to identify solutions.
- Rob Saka is a cybersecurity and compliance attorney, police reform advocate, and Air Force Veteran. A West Seattle resident, Rob has been deeply involved in the community over the years, including by: serving on nonprofit boards such as the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, representing homeless military veterans pro bono via the Seattle Stand Down initiative, and providing legal advice to underserved entrepreneurs with Communities Rise. More recently, Rob served on the King County Charter Review Commission where helped champion and pass three police accountability and equity amendments to the county’s Charter—namely, those related to OLEO Subpoena power, Inquests, and adding new Antidiscrimination protections for family caregivers and working families—which were approved by voters in November 2020.
The first action of these four appointees will be to select the fifth member of the committee, who then serves as chair of the committee.
“The redistricting process is vital to ensuring that King County residents are represented fairly and enables the Council to adapt as the population distribution of the County changes,” said Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles. “Now more than ever, fair representation at all levels of government is crucial to making sure that our local elected officials reflect the will of their constituents and represent them in good faith. I’m pleased to see individuals with a wide range of lived experiences and expertise in the members of this committee and look forward to seeing the culmination of their efforts.”
“As our region continues to grow in population, it is important to set the boundaries of our county council districts in a way that shows fairness and best represents the unique needs of each part of our county,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert. “I appreciate the commitment that these volunteers will make, and I look forward to working with them to update our district boundaries based on the new Census data.”
Ordinance 19178, enacted in October 2020, revised the appointment process to affirm that it is a non-partisan and independent group that will use data to assess and adjust Council district boundaries. With the support of an outside data consultant called a “districting master,” committee members will work throughout 2021 and provide the updated Council district map to the King County Council by the end of the year.
The new map will become effective once it is submitted to Council and the Council does not act to approve or amend the map. It is what the committee adopts.