A signature-gathering campaign called ‘Kent For Districts’ kicked-off on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024, with the intention to create voting districts for City of Kent elections.
The group calls itself “a non-partisan coalition determined to get representation for every neighborhood in our city.”
Campaign co-directors – Mónica Mendoza-Castrejón, a law student and longtime civic activist, and Cliff Cawthon, a housing advocate – say that the current system of the city’s at-large only voting “gives too much influence to some neighborhoods and diminishes participation in others.”
“I believe in Kent For Districts because this city deserves equitable and full representation,” Mendoza-Castrejón said. “As someone who grew up and lives in Kent, I have seen this city change but stay the same in many ways. Changing Kent’s municipal election system to districts would ensure that all of Kent’s neighborhoods will be represented, be more democratic, and move our city forward in a positive and impactful way that will benefit generations to come.”
In order to be considered by voters in the 2024 General Election Ballot, the campaign must gather 10,572 signatures by the middle of this summer. The campaign is optimistic about their signature-gathering ability and has already received the endorsement of two current Kent City Councilmembers – Marli Larimer and John Boyd.
“I support district elections for Kent because we are the 6th largest city in the state, the 6th most diverse city in the nation, and we have distinctly different subareas between East Hill, West Hill and the Valley,” Kent Councilmember Larimer said. “Only in the most recent years have we had representation from the West Hill and the Valley on council and district elections will codify this pattern of representation ensuring these neighborhoods remain represented for years to come. Districting also promotes a strong connection and accountability between residents and their elected representatives and contributes to the creation of more equitable City policy.”
Councilmember Boyd added:
“I support districts because it is beneficial for councilmembers but, also the people who would live in these districts that councilmembers would run in. They can better get to know who their councilmembers are.”
The campaign anticipates broad support from dozens of elected leaders and community groups now that they have publicly launched. Hira Singh Bhullar, a former city council candidate and tech worker has already thrown his full support behind this effort: “I like to see representation from each corner of Kent in the city hall,” he said.
If Mónica Mendoza-Castrejón could sum up the campaign objective in one sentence, she said:
“The time is overdue: Kent’s residents in every neighborhood deserve a seat at the table.”
The campaign will be hosting an event at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024 at Rafiki Restaurant and Lounge, located at 226 1st Ave S. in Kent.
For more information visit: www.kentfordistricts.com.