Redistricting is a process that follows the Census, which redraws district lines every ten years to account for population changes. In Oregon, the Legislature is responsible for creating and passing a Redistricting plan. Their process starts with an initial map drafted by the Redistricting committee. The community gives feedback about these maps and the Legislature uses the feedback to make changes to these maps. The maps are then passed by the Legislature.
When our community contributes to the redistricting process, it allows us to determine who runs for office in our district, where transportation routes are, and where community spaces are in our district, Some of our APANO community members who testified with us this year learned about why it’s important for our voices to be heard in redistricting–so that we stay connected to the people and the places that give us a sense of belonging and collective power.
We started this process by organizing with WeCountOregon to reach hard to count communities. The #WeCountOregon campaign is a community-led effort to ensure that hard to count communities, including people of color, immigrants, renters, rural communities, and parents of children under 5 – understand and take the 2020 Census. The APANO Census Team was the first WeCountOregon team to organize in the middle of a pandemic. We were the first team to navigate organizing over Zoom. We made over 12,000 contacts and reached many people in hard to count communities.
During the first few months of 2021, APANO and other WeDrawOregon partners engaged the community in a few different ways. We knew that our community was interested in learning more about redistricting, and we wanted to make sure folks knew how it impacted them. Our community members testified at the first round of hearings in February and March, and they also showed up to our town halls to talk more about what redistricting will look like in our communities for the next ten years. Education around this issue was a top priority for APANO, and we wanted folks to have as much information (and community power) as possible.
One success that came from this time was our community map, which was created by Mapping Action Collective. This map was a culmination of community responses from folks in our Washington County town hall in June of this year, and the map reflects where we view community power to be most prevalent throughout the Portland area. Our hope is that in another ten years, we’ll be able to build on this exact map with even more sites of where we see ourselves in community throughout Oregon–where we make decisions, where we find our leadership being most effective, and where we feel most at home with one another.
The Redistricting Process starts with the Census data being released during late August. The Legislature then takes that data and releases their initial draft of the Redistricting Maps to the public on September 3rd. The community provides feedback to their initial plans during hearings from September 8-13. These hearings happen in each Congressional district of Oregon. Then the Legislature passes the finalized Redistricting Plan on September 27th. APANO worked with WeDrawOregon to recruit people to testify at the Legislative Redistricting Hearings. We also crafted talking points and templates to help our recruits prepare to testify.
Washington County has been drawn in a way that keeps communities together. House district 34 contains Bethany, Oak Hills, and half of Cedar Mills. This is important because Bethany, Oak Hills, and Cedar Mills have one of the fastest growing Asian populations in Washington County. It also contains the highest density of any Asian Population in Washington County. Cedar Mills is split between House District 34 and 27. This is important because Cedar Mills has a prominent Asian population and it is split in half. House District 27 contains Cedar Mills, Cedar Hills, and Beaverton. Beaverton is a central part of the Asian and Pacific Islander community in Washington County because it contains a lot of cultural businesses. Aloha is in House District 35. Aloha has a prominent Asian and Pacific Islander population and it is usually split in half because of the Tualatin Valley Highway.
Multnomah County has been drawn in a way that largely kept our communities together. House Districts 46, 47, 48, and 49 have the largest API populations. They are all drawn with almost no splitting. This means that our community is not gerrymandered by the district lines drawn by the state legislators. When our communities are kept together, our voices are heard as a collective.
In Clackamas County, there is splitting between House District 39 and 48 which separates Happy Valley and Clackamas from Damascus. In Marion County, there is splitting between HD 17, 21, 22, and 19. Our communities are largely kept together, but there is still splitting within these districts.
The Redistricting Plan officially takes effect on February 1st 2022. APANO will now be focusing on the Redistricting Process on the Metro and County level. Metro will soon be starting their Redistricting process and APANO will be working with Metro to ensure that these districts will keep communities together. APANO will also be working in Washington and Multnomah County to ensure that our communities will be kept together. Clackamas and Marion County do not have Redistricting processes so APANO will not be working on Redistricting in these counties.
APANO would like to thank the WeCountOregon and WeDrawOregon Coalitions for their support in this important process. We would also like to thank our Census Phone Banking team that helped us contact over 12,000 people last year. Additionally, we thank everyone who worked with us this year and showed up to our events and testified at the Legislative hearings. This includes East County Rising, Next Up, Our Oregon, and everyone who agreed to testify with us. Thank you so much for your continued support!
This programming message brought to you by APANO Communities United Fund, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.