Governor appoints two to redistricting board - Must Read Alaska
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Wednesday, August 12, 2020
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Governor appoints two to redistricting board

Bethany Marcum and E. Budd Simpson were named by Gov. Mike Dunleavy to the Alaska Redistricting Board today.

Marcum is the executive director of the Alaska Policy Forum in Anchorage, and Simpson is a Juneau attorney who represents Native Corporation Sealaska.

The redistricting board takes U.S. Census data to reapportion the state’s political boundaries. In areas where population has declined, representatives and senators boundaries get bigger. In places like the Mat-Su Valley, more representatives and senators will be assigned, since the population has grown.

It’s a highly political process and the redistricting board guides the effort, which almost always ends up in court in Alaska. Redistricting takes place every 10 years. In 2011, it took two years for the entire matter to be settled after several court challenges.

Now, Speaker Bryce Edgmon, Senate President Cathy Giessel, and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Joel Bolger each will make one pick for the board.

The board must be seated by Sept. 1. Sen. Cathy Giessel goes next, then Rep. Bryce Edgmon, and finally the judge.

The picks have to be sensitive to judicial districts — one from each judicial districts. But there are four judicial districts and a five-member board.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

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