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Council districts redrawn?

Not all City Council members were happy about the results of a recent redistricting study.

As cities change, so do their demographics — that is, the distribution of the population. Although Bremerton hasn’t grown much in recent years, the 2000 Census indicates people have moved around — which means it’s time to fine tune boundaries of Bremerton’s nine Council districts.

Council members met recently to review redistricting maps.

Council member Mike Shepherd said he was not happy with the way his district has been redrawn to be evenly split by the Port Washington Narrows — half in West Bremerton and half in East Bremerton — even though there has always been a small part of his district in East Bremerton.

“I don’t understand why they couldn’t put the excess in population (in that area) in Districts 2 or 3, and not 5,” said Shepherd, who has been District 5’s representative since 1998. Districts 2 and 3 neighbor District 5. “I don’t like splitting my district by the Narrows.”

Shepherd’s was the only district redrawn in that fashion. The rest were kept contiguous, said Richard Berndt, senior economic development specialist with the Central Puget Sound Economic District, the consulting agency doing the redistricting.

“We tried to adjust it so that we came up with the most equal distribution of the population as possible,” said Berndt. “We tried to keep districts compact — though this was difficult due to the hilly terrain and waterways.”

At the Council’s request, redistricting must also project changes in population density due to visiting ships at PSNS.

Formerly, certain districts, such as District 1, which comprises most of the west side of East Bremerton, were out of alignment by as much as 1,400 residents too many. District 2 was nearly 900 residents short of the ideal “average” population per district of 4,140. The city’s total population is 37,259.

There’s no way to achieve the perfect average in every district since populations are in constant flux, said Berndt, but redistricting has balanced things out so that District 1, for example, is now only 216 resident low, and District 2 is about 222 low. Shepherd’s District 5 went from 194 high to 213 low.

The only district still out of line is District 9. Redistricting pulled a 789 surplus of residents down to 604, over the average.

No final decision will be made until the plan comes before the Council in public debate in several weeks. No date has been set. Maps are available for public scrutiny at City Hall on Fourth Street.

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