Washington's two representatives from the state's 12th Legislative District are still adjusting to working on behalf of voters west of the Cascades.

Last February, the district's boundaries were expanded to include portions of King and Snohomish Counties, making it the only one of Washington's 49 legislative jurisdictions to span the geographical and political divide between the state's two sides.

Chelan Republican Mike Steele, who represents the 12th, says he and fellow district legislator Keith Goehner, have already been busy making inroads within the new territory for months now.

"We've spent a whole lot of time getting to know the new territory, including a bunch of time traveling back and forth over (U.S.) Highway 2. And our new constituents are getting used to it now too, so folks from that side are starting to call our offices and we're beginning to chat with a lot of people from places like Monroe and King County. But this is a large adjustment, especially since we're the only district in Washington State that makes that east-west crossing."

Census information is used to redraw the legislative borders of the state every ten years by the Washington Redistricting Commission.

Last year's changes to the 12th District were among the most sweeping made by the commission in decades - a fact that Goehner says has he and Steele striving to find a balance between the jurisdiction's commonalities and differences.

"With the people we now represent in Snohomish County, all of their interests have traditionally pointed towards Everett but we still have the commonality of (U.S.) Highway 2. But some of the people over there weren't all that excited about being in the 12th, just like some people who were already in the 12th weren't too happy about being tied in with folks on the Westside. But I think it's incumbent upon us to represent the whole of the district."

Last year's district restructuring also brought marked geographical changes to several of the 12th's neighboring Districts as well, including the 7th and 13th.

Washington's 2023 Legislative Sessions gaveled to order on Monday, January 9 and are scheduled to adjourn on April 23.

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