Redistricting board has two maps under consideration for new political boundaries - Must Read Alaska
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Thursday, December 9, 2021
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Redistricting board has two maps under consideration for new political boundaries

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On Thursday, the Alaska Redistricting Board adopted two proposed redistricting maps.

The draft plans can be seen at www.akredistrict.org/maps.

The Alaska Constitution requires adoption of at least one proposed plan within 30 days after the official reporting of the census of the United States. The census data was received by all the states on Aug. 12.

These are not the only maps in the process. Third parties have been working on maps, and those will be reviewed by the board on Sept. 17, with public testimony expected. Some Republican interests are drawing maps, as are Democrats.

“I was pleased the Board came together this week and found consensus on many areas of the state. We adopted two proposed plans today to begin the process of hearing from Alaskans about how they would like their legislative districts to be crafted,” said John Binkley, chairman of the Alaska Redistricting Board, in a statement.

The Alaska Redistricting Board will hold public hearings statewide prior to finalizing the new political boundaries no later than Nov. 10.

The board has met all week, but the public’s ability to monitor the discussions has been severely curtailed by faulty audio and visual equipment. The Friday meeting was canceled, since the draft maps are complete, and the group will meet again on Friday, Sept. 17, to consider third-party maps.

The board found quite a bit of consensus on the two maps but there are areas of disagreement, including:

  • The northern line of Bristol Bay region — how far north it should extend.
  • Fairbanks and how it expands into Interior districts
  • Valdez, about whether it should be paired with Interior villages, Mat-Su or Anchorage.

The maps being worked on right now were the products of Bethany Marcum and Nicole Borromeo, both board members.

Marcum’s map, particularly around the Mat-Su, is more compact and also socio-economically integrated. There was general agreement that Marcum’s and Borromeo’s maps for the Mat-Su are similar. Both of their maps have Whittier and South Knik with Anchorage.

It appears the maps take Nenana out of the Mat-Su region and put it into the Interior. The group has not resolved the Gulf Coast yet — whether to include Cordova with northern Southeast Alaska, or leave it paired with Kodiak; a case can be made either way.

On Thursday, the Democrat group calling itself Alaskans for Fair Redistricting gave testimony concerning the draft plans. The group is represented by Democrats Robin O’Donahue of Fairbanks and David Dunsmore of Anchorage .

While the Democrats had their people ready to testify about districts, the Republicans have not had anyone testify during this entire process started except Republican former party Chairman Randy Ruedrich. Word has spread that former Sen. Cathy Giessel, a Republican dissident, is playing a shadow puppeteer role by directing the lead staff, Peter Torkelson, from behind the scenes.

Sen. Tom Begich testified and has his own map to offer the board. He said the Mat-Su and Anchorage are underpopulated. Begich said it is imperative that Mat-Su and Anchorage draw population from outside their boundaries, not from each other. Begich agreed that adding Yakutat to Southeast Alaska makes sense, and would put Valdez with Kodiak and Cordova with the Interior. Begich was representing Senate Democratic Caucus.

The board appeared to disagree with Begich on some of his assertions.

Chairman John Binkley appeared to be tiring of the process on Thursday, calling it “tedious,” and said that Marcum was “driving the bus.”

Marcum was working hard to keep Eagle River compact and the group was trying to make slight adjustments to all of the Anchorage districts on Marcum’s map to accommodate the loss in the northernmost district of the South Knik.

Borromeo, general counsel for the Alaska Federation of Natives, was adamant that they not work from a pre-made map; she wants to start from scratch for Anchorage, which would advantage her Democrat interests. At this point in the meeting she refused to participate and said she would watch watch they do, indicating this may be a point for her allies to mount a legal challenge.

Binkley reiterated that they were, indeed, starting with fresh maps.

Borromeo also disagreed with the role and duties of the board chair, saying he has been unfair about public testimony, not giving equal time, and giving disparate treatment. That complaint didn’t hold water since all but one of the testifiers has represented Democrat interests.

She said some board members get the benefit of counsel, while others do not. She said she felt shafted and that Binkley has been inconsistent. Borromeo was upset by an email from Monday that suggested the board set broad policy, such as where to put Valdez, and have the staff draw the maps, rather than draw them as a group exercise.

Borromeo further complained that Binkley found that process “tedious.” She said people should keep those thoughts to themselves. At that point, Binkley apologized and said “I’ll try to do better.”

Borromeo continued to complain about small-group side discussions, and said too many unilateral actions have been taken.

After an at-ease, Borromeo acknowledged that she shut down earlier and blamed her Athabaskan heritage for her temper, which had gotten the best of her. She then re-engaged with the map process that was finalizing and began working with Marcum on variations on the Anchorage districts. Borromeo’s map variations greatly swung to help Democrats, and with planted Democrats testifying, it may result in a more Democrat-leaning Anchorage.

By the end of Friday, the public will be able to see which incumbents might be paired with each other in these draft maps, with PDF documents being released by the end of the day.

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Written by

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.

Latest comments

  • Dealing with all of those people does sound tedious.

  • “A more Democrat-leaning Anchorage.” Call me verklempt.

    • Anchorage voted for a communist president for the first time since LBJ so this is inevitable

  • Democrats always find a way to rig cheat and steal. Planted testimony, fake “Republicans” on the board, it’s all three

    • Jon is correct. Why would John Binkley, a multi, multi-millionaire, thanks to his parents, want to be on the Redistricting Board? He is on the Alaska Railroad Board and owns the Anchorage Daily News. He was the President of the Alaska Cruiseship Industry. He owns in part the new Ketchikan cruiseship dock facility; owns tour boats up in Fairbanks, ran for Governor and Senator (lost each time). If being Chairman on the Redistricting Board “bores” him, why even serve? What was his backdoor deal with Cathy Giessel in order for her to appoint him?

  • Western Alaska is as usual, totally malfunctioned.

    District 37, Dillingham and the Alaska peninsula have absolutely nothing in common with the mid Yukon River, but it does have almost everything in common with the coast line Communities of District 38, which is exactly where District 37, (Edgmon) should be expanded in the Northernly direction.

    The reason it never happens is because Native Health (YKHC) is the dominate force in the current make up of District 38, (Zulkowski) and YKHC controls these Villages and doesn’t want their power broke up by taking on the villages (upper Kuskokwim and Yukon Villages) they don’t represent.

    The two districts are a 100% political malarkey, but then Binky knows that as he was a pretend Republican, while he served as a Senator for the two combined districts.

  • Don’t forget……..Giessel selected John Binkley to the Redistricting Board, while she was Senate President. Apparently, this is all the remaining
    influence she has left……a voice with the owner of the commie rag, ADN.

    • Binkley (RINO) plus Borromeo (Socialist) plus Banhke (Socialist) = disaster for Alaska

      • Agree with Mr. Alderson, 100%.

  • Ask yourself?! The Question why changing it?

    Answer!? Somebody or Somebodies will benefit from this action that taxpayers pay for !

    Why, what, when, and where!

    Most people don’t pay attention to these actions!

  • Ask yourself?! The Question why changing it?

    Answer!? Somebody or Somebodies will benefit from this action that taxpayers pay for !

    Why, what, when, and where!

    Most people don’t pay attention to these actions!

  • The valley is virtually split in half with district 27 & 28 Separated by two districts. Let’s lump Palmer with Talkeetna so that Hughes and Shower have to run for the same senate seat. Who thinks these things up.

  • Palmer should be district 29 not District 27. They miss numbered purposefully the districts to add conflict to the valley between Hughes and Shower. Take a look for yourself no natural boundary between the two districts…

  • They miss numbered the Palmer District it should not be 27 it should be 29. Take a look for yourself no natural boundry…

  • Wasilla fits more as 27 not 29, And Palmer Should be 29 not what we have the board is purposely putting Showers district the West part of the valley against the East part of the Valley. 27 should be district 29 and 29 should be district 27 take a look for yourself and stop deleting my post.

  • Where is the extra seat in the valley.

  • The biggest issue IMO is keeping 5 house seats entirely within the Fairbanks Borough, this plan would have quite a few less people than other districts which does not meet the Constitutional requirement of equal representation.

    • Frank-

      Keeping the FNSB seats within the borough boundaries results in 5 overpopulated districts (not underpopulated) thus more people per seat than other districts. As they are overpopulated they are underrepresented.

  • Also Suzanne-

    Keep in mind if you view the map in totality you will find that the FNSB is slated to be the most underrepresented community (by far) in the entire state. Anchorage, Matsu, Western Alaska, and South East are all on the whole overrepresented and underpopulated. (This comes at the expense of interior residents and the north slope/arctic residents)

    some things to consider about these maps-
    1) Alaska Native Communities are by in large overrepresented (underpopulated)
    see (District 2,28,30,37,38,39) (Subtract from 36,40,5) =result roughly

    2) Every district in the Matsu is underpopulated thus overrepresented making the MATSU the most powerful and overrepresented constituency in the State. (Western Alaska is a close second). Note- on ver 1 palmer is overpopulated slightly

    3) The most influential (overrepresented/underpopulated) Representative would be on version 1 (Bryce Edgmon ) District 37.

    on version 2 it would be District 9 (currently held by James Kaufman)- Version 2 puts Kaufman and Shaw in the same district therefore they would run against each other in 16 and District 9 would be open. (There are probably a lot more of these types of things, but someone who lives in Anchorage should figure this out, (I live in Fairbanks)

    4) The most underrepresented/overpopulated district in either version would be District 35 (Grier Hopkins currently, FNSB).

    5) The most underrepresented/overpopulated community in the state is by far the FNSB in both versions.

    6)Overall the “power” shifts to the Matsu, Anchorage, Western AK, and SE Alaska, at the expense of the Interior (Fairbanks NSB+North Slope/NW Arctic borough communities on the basis of these two map versions.

    7) Both map versions intentionally break the natural boundary N/S of the Parks Highway (Districts 31/35) around Adam Wool’s house ensuring Hopkins and Wool do not have to run against each other.)

    • Makes sense that Edgmon and Kaufman would be given the plum districts, as both of them are PFD haters

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