© 2023 | Jefferson Public Radio
Southern Oregon University
1250 Siskiyou Blvd.
Ashland, OR 97520
541.552.6301 | 800.782.6191
a service of Southern Oregon University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Public Hearings Begin For Redrawing Oregon’s Political Maps

The Oregon State Capitol in Salem.
Chris Lehman
The Oregon State Capitol in Salem.

Public hearings began this week to hear how Oregon lawmakers should redraw the state’s legislative and congressional districts as part of the state’s once-a-decade process known as redistricting.

Ten virtual hearings are happening, beginning this week, going through April 10. They’re a chance for Oregonians to weigh in on how they’ll be represented when lawmakers redraw political districts to maintain equal population numbers after changes recorded with the 2020 census.

“We want to hear about transportation links and geographic and political boundaries and things that are important legally, that we need to look at when we’re going to redraw the lines,” says State Senator Tim Knopp, vice-chair of the senate redistricting committee.

Estimates of population change show growth around Portland and Bend and declines in southwest and eastern Oregon.
Oregon legislature
Estimates of population change in state senate districts show growth around Portland and Bend and declines in southwest and eastern Oregon.

Exact population numbers are not yet available because of the delayed 2020 Census but estimates from the legislature show the biggest growth over the past decade happened in places like Portland and the Willamette Valley, as well as in central Oregon around Bend. Large swaths of southwest and eastern Oregon lost population.

“Most southern and eastern Oregon districts are going to have to grow and pickup population. The area around Bend will shrink as will the areas in the metro area and Washington County specifically,” says Knopp, who represents central Oregon’s District 27.

Knopp says there’s a ‘strong possibility’ that population growth will earn Oregon a sixth seat in Congress, though that’s contingent on final census numbers.

The hearings are divided between the state’s five congressional districts. Wednesday evening will focus on District 2, Oregon’s vast, rural district stretching from Josephine County to the Idaho border.

Erik Neumann is JPR's news director. He earned a master's degree from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and joined JPR as a reporter in 2019 after working at NPR member station KUER in Salt Lake City.