Resolution establishes intent to collaborate on ballot measures to grow size of governing bodies
OLYMPIA – On Tuesday, November 23, the Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) unanimously voted to approve a joint resolution with the Port of Olympia that states the two governing bodies will collaborate on efforts to draw new boundaries and expand the number of representatives in each body if Thurston County has at least 300,000 residents by May 2, 2022.
In Washington, once a non-charter county – like Thurston County - reaches a population of 300,000, the governing body of that county can put forward a ballot measure to voters that proposes the expansion of the county commission from three to five commissioners. The Port of Olympia does not have a similar population threshold.
Instead, state law allows any port district to put forward a ballot measure to authorize an increase in the number of port commissioners whenever the port commission adopts a resolution proposing the increase, or a petition proposing such an increase has been submitted to the county auditor the port district is located. For the Port of Olympia, the proposed increase would be to expand the Port Commission from three commissioners to five commissioners.
The BoCC held a joint meeting with the Port of Olympia on Wednesday, July 21. At that time, both governing bodies agreed putting forward simultaneous ballot measures would provide greater clarity to voters and save taxpayer dollars.
It is anticipated the population of Thurston County will reach at least 300,000 residents by May 2, 2022; this is the deadline for adopting precinct boundary changes prior to the 2022 general election.
The Port of Olympia Commission is still considering approval of the joint resolution.
The joint resolution calls for the creation of a three-member redistricting committee comprised of the chair of the BoCC, chair of the Port of Olympia, and the Thurston County Auditor. The Auditor would serve as a non-voting member providing technical guidance. The redistricting committee will only be created if Thurston County reaches at least 300,000 residents by the May 2, 2022 deadline.