Lynnwood man taking up Milem’s redistricting fight

In the final years of his life, Vancouver’s John Milem was on a quest to change the way the state redraws its voter district lines. Unfortunately, Milem’s rare form of cancer caused him to drop his case with the Washington State Supreme Court before it gained traction.

Now, another redistricting advocate has emerged to take up the cause, and he has harsh words for the powers that be. Douglas Kerley, 62, of Lynnwood filed a petition with the state Supreme Court to “challenge the redistricting plan of the State of Washington as not compliant with (state law) and the Constitution of the Sate of Washington.”

Every 10 years, voter district lines in the state are redrawn based on new population information revealed through the Census. The Washington State Redistricting Commission based its plan on the 2010 Census, and it went into effect for the 2012 elections.

Milem wasn’t pleased with the new voter boundary plan. It limits political competition and doesn’t pest represent the communities of Washington, he said. Kerley seconded that opinion.

Kerley, a retired disable veteran, admitted he’s more emotionally invested in the redistricting fight than the level-headed Milem.

The issue is “a little more personal with me than it was with John, but I take things more personally,” Kerley said by phone this month. “I swore the mighty oath to preserve, protect and defend. … A lot of these people just belong in a prison.”

His one-page petition has already hit a snag with the court, who has asked him to submit a more detailed argument against the state’s redistricting plan or face the dismissal of his case.

Kerley also asked the court to fast-track his petition before candidate filing week in May. The court denied to do so, saying that 2013 isn’t an election year for congressional and legislative races, and that those were the only races impacted by the redistricting plan.

“I’m just horrified about the whole deal,” Kerley said. “It just makes me beyond furious.”

Kerley said he knew Milem, and they were both involved in testifying before the redistricting commission as the agency worked to redraw the state’s 2012 voter boundary lines.

“We met at several redistricting meetings,” Kerley said. “We had lunch a time or two.”

You can read the documents in Kerley’s case here and here.

Stevie Mathieu

Stevie Mathieu

Stevie Mathieu is a political writer at The Columbian. Contact her at 360-735-4523 or or or

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