NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, January 30th, 2021

Sarah Augustine chosen as Chair of the 2021 Washington State Redistricting Commission

And then there were five!

Today, at a short, busi­ness-focused meet­ing, the four vot­ing mem­bers of the 201 Wash­ing­ton State Redis­trict­ing Com­mis­sion ful­filled their respon­si­bil­i­ty to select a fifth non­vot­ing mem­ber to serve as the com­mis­sion’s Chair through the end of the redis­trict­ing process as the Wash­ing­ton State Con­sti­tu­tion requires.

Sarah Augus­tine, the Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the Dis­pute Res­o­lu­tion Cen­ter of Yaki­ma and Kit­ti­tas Coun­ties, was the Com­mis­sion’s unan­i­mous choice for the job. She will pre­side at future meet­ings of the Com­mis­sion, whose four vot­ing mem­bers are Demo­c­ra­t­ic Com­mis­sion­ers April Sims and Brady Walkin­shaw and Repub­li­can Com­mis­sion­ers Joe Fain and Paul Graves.

“Sarah received a BA in Soci­ol­o­gy and Psy­chol­o­gy and an MA in Whole Sys­tems Design with an empha­sis in group con­flict trans­for­ma­tion,” her DRC biog­ra­phy says. “She is the co-founder of Suri­name Indige­nous Health Fund (SIHF), where she has advo­cat­ed for vul­ner­a­ble Indige­nous Peo­ples since 2004.”

“She has rep­re­sent­ed the inter­ests of Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ty part­ners to their own gov­ern­ments, the Inter-Amer­i­can devel­op­ment bank, the Unit­ed Nations, the Orga­ni­za­tion of Amer­i­can States Inter-Amer­i­can Com­mis­sion on Human Rights, the World Health Orga­ni­za­tion, and a host of oth­er inter­na­tion­al actors.”

“She employs shut­tle diplo­ma­cy and group deci­sion-mak­ing strate­gies to de-esca­late con­flict and estab­lish com­mon ground between com­mu­ni­ties and exter­nal inter­ests. In addi­tion to her work with SIHF, Sarah has worked as an orga­ni­za­tion­al con­sul­tant in strate­gic plan­ning, facil­i­ta­tion, and mediation.”

“Sarah, a senior medi­a­tor, has been a medi­a­tor for fif­teen years.”

The com­mis­sion­ers were all in agree­ment that Augustine’s back­ground and expe­ri­ence make her an extreme­ly suit­able can­di­date to serve as Chair.

“This [nom­i­na­tion] was a sug­ges­tion from one of our Demo­c­ra­t­ic col­leagues… [I] had a con­ver­sa­tion, did a lit­tle bit of research and what I found, I was extra­or­di­nar­i­ly impressed with,” said Repub­li­can Com­mis­sion­er Joe Fain.

“The pub­lic has tasked us with not only draw­ing maps, but in cre­at­ing bound­aries in a fair and col­lab­o­ra­tive way that fos­ters trust in our gov­ern­ment and con­fi­dence in our elec­toral process… I have full faith and con­fi­dence that Sarah is sim­i­lar­ly com­mit­ted to this goal,” said Demo­c­ra­t­ic Com­mis­sion­er April Sims.

“I had the good for­tune to spend some time talk­ing with Sarah yes­ter­day — hope­ful­ly, soon to be Com­mis­sion­er Augus­tine — and I was just extra­or­di­nar­i­ly impressed by the per­spec­tives she brings to this spe­cif­ic role,” con­curred Demo­c­ra­t­ic Com­mis­sion­er Brady Walkinshaw.

“I’m very excit­ed about Sarah Augus­tine serv­ing as our Chair as well,” said Repub­li­can Com­mis­sion­er Paul Graves. “We’re going to end up hav­ing an orga­ni­za­tion that is a state agency and hires eight or nine peo­ple. Her work run­ning the Dis­pute Res­o­lu­tion Cen­ter in Yaki­ma and Kit­ti­tas Coun­ties shows she can do that, and — I have con­fi­dence! — do it well.”

Future meet­ings of the Redis­trict­ing Com­mis­sion will be sched­uled by Augus­tine in con­sul­ta­tion with the four vot­ing mem­bers, Graves noted.

Just before adjourn­ment, Com­mis­sion­er April Sims observed that the Com­mis­sion needs to move quick­ly on releas­ing a job descrip­tion for the posi­tion of exec­u­tive direc­tor so that it can begin seek­ing appli­cants for that role.

The Com­mis­sion then con­clud­ed its Jan­u­ary 30th meeting.

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