Naming Names

With all but the toughest census work done, we’ll soon start the process of redistricting. And I’d like to make a small suggestion when we start to redistrict here in Washington: For goodness sake, name the districts, don’t number them.

Watching the British elections recently, I was struck at how you can get a sense of where the constituencies are just based on names like Wimbledon, Exeter, or Belfast East. Names get right to the point and are clearer than numbers. In fact, when the newspapers do use the number of state or federal districts here, they are so unhelpful that they often times have to add a location anyway. (Occasionally with misleading results. When reading about my old district, I sometimes hear that Ruth Kagi represents Shoreline, Darlene Fairley represents Lake Forest Park, and Maralyn Chase represents Edmonds despite the fact that they represent the same district.)

Naming the districts would be easy enough to do here. Instead of discussing the 32nd District that has no inherent meaning, why not a name like North King County and Edmonds? Jim McDermott would represent Seattle and Vashon, not the number 7.

I understand that the boundaries of the districts will matter more over the next decade than their names, but naming the districts just makes more sense than the current system.


  1. 3

    Timothy M. Farrell spews:

    I totally agree and ever since I was elected in 2004, I have signed my name as:

    Timothy M. Farrell (D)
    Tacoma Center/Ruston

    District 4 really doesn’t convey who or where I represent on the Pierce County Council. The discriptive name, however, does :)

  2. 4

    Broadway Joe spews:

    It’s a good idea on the surface, but it’s unworkable on the Congressional level because of the very impermanent nature of district boundaries, and occasionally of districts themselves. What would we call WA-9? South Puget Sound Minus Tacoma?

  3. 5

    Krist Novoselic spews:

    It’s a cute idea but what about the names already used for districts? It’s common to refer to them as either Republican or Democratic – depending on what kind of voters inhabit them. I live in the 19th LD and I’m afraid we’re going to be pulled into North Clark County next year. In a variation of your idea, maybe be can then call the 19th “Bible School” or something like that? Forget the geography and go for who dominates the district in ideological terms. It’s up to the commission who draws the lines anyway – just hope you fall on the winning side of the equation.