Redistricting: A No-Win Puzzle Sure to Upset Someone


alaska-redistricting-jigsaw.jpgJay Barrett/KMXT

The once-a-decade reshaping of Alaska House and Senate districts is turning out to be just as contentious as previous reapportionment plans. All four re-drawings of legislative districts in Alaska’s short history have resulted in lawsuits, sometimes lasting for years. KMXT’s Jay Barrett has more.

Imagine trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle with pieces that must be the same size, but can change shape at any time. And if you don’t do it just right, lots of people will be mad at you. In fact, even when you come up with a workable plan, somebody somewhere will likely sue you. That’s the task of the Alaska Redistricting Board, which is in the process of taking comments on its draft plans for rearranging the state’s legislative districts.

(Redistrict 1 15 sec The Democrats yelled at us and … repercussions on the next.")

That’s Kodiak’s Bob Brodie, who is one of five members on the board.

The redistricting process first required drawing 40 shapes on the map, each encompassing almost 18,000 people, representing one house district. Then the board had to put those into groups of two to make up senate districts. Brodie said the current options for the Kodiak house district is more or less going to stay intact, though it could gain or lose areas off the island.

(Redistrict 2 34 sec "It’s just a matter of where … paired with Seward.")

As for the other house district to make up a new senate district, Kodiak could stay with parts of the Kenai Peninsula, or look to the east:

(Redistrict 3 39 sec "Southeast is kinda difficult … other was with Kodiak.")

Those with long memories will recall that before the current arrangement during the 2000s, Kodiak shared a senate district with southeast. For a time the senator was Kodiak’s Fred Zharoff, and for a time it was Craig’s Jerry Mackie (mack-ee). It was an arrangement that borough Mayor Jerome Selby says probably short-changed people on both sides of the Gulf of Alaska:

(Redistrict 4 46 sec "It was not a real satisfactory … make a day trip.")

Selby said his preference would be for Kodiak Island to continue to be paired with portions of the Kenai Peninsula, and if not, perhaps the Alaska Peninsula and Bristol Bay, if the numbers work out. There is a concern that the population base on Kodiak Island, compared to its companion district, might not be able to determine who is elected senator:

(Redistrict 5 33 sec "Well, technically we can’t now … from our community.")

Members of the redistricting board will be in Kodiak a week from today to hear from residents on the plan. It has just less than 60 days to present a final plan, and then, as Brodie pointed out, it’ll probably wind up in the courts.

I’m Jay Barrett. ###

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