Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly Chairwoman Mindy O’Neall has called a special Assembly meeting for Jan. 6 to consider a resolution by Assemblyman David Guttenberg, who is asking the Borough to join in as a “friend of the court” in a lawsuit against the new political district boundaries in Fairbanks.
Those boundaries, as set forth by the Alaska Redistricting Board, disadvantage Guttenberg’s nephew, Democrat Rep. Grier Hopkins, whose new district trends conservative and will be difficult for him to win in 2022.
Guttenberg is complaining that a portion of the Goldstream Road area has been districted into the new District 36, which is a sprawling Interior Alaska District, a shape that is favored by Doyon Native Corporation. Guttenberg wants the borough to file an amicus brief in regard to the new lines, and so the matter is the subject of the special meeting.
But Guttenberg is only complaining about Goldstream, and mentions nothing about the Elliott Highway, much of which is also in the new D-36, and parts of the Steese Highway. He’s only concerned about the redistricted portion that impacts his nephew.
The Borough Assembly had, during the draft mapping process, asked the redistricting board to fix overpopulated districts in the region, and the board complied. The Assembly asked the board to take any the excess population and put it in a single district. The board did that, too. Now Guttenberg is worried about the result, perhaps because it impacts the Guttenberg-Hopkins political legacy.
Guttenberg is a former Fairbanks state representative, who served eight terms representing that part of Fairbanks before retiring from the State Legislature. Hopkins ran for the seat vacated by his uncle in 2018 and won it handily.
The filing deadline to oppose the new districts has already passed, but the amicus brief, something that would be drawn up by the borough’s lawyers, would support an existing lawsuit by the City of Valdez and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.
Oral arguments for the challenges to the redistricting map are set for January.
The agenda for the meeting has the resolution on it and nothing more. The draft of the resolution is here: