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New lines drawn

Redistricting board designates seats up for re-election

Posted: June 15, 2011 - 8:00am

Under the plan adopted Monday by the Alaska Redistricting Board, the Kenai Peninsula would be represented in the state Legislature by five representatives and three senators, all facing re-election in 2012.

The board made a ceremonial proclamation with its final plans for Alaska’s legislative districts on Tuesday. The new lines split the Kenai Peninsula Borough into North Kenai, Homer/South Kenai and Kenai/Soldotna districts. Those are numbered 28, 29, 30, 35 and 36. Small portions of the borough are part of the Kodiak/Cordova and Bristol Bay/Aleutians East districts.

The board is requiring all but one state senator to run for re-election. The lone man who will retain his seat is Dennis Egan, D-Juneau, whose district did not change as significantly as the rest. The board also had to decide which seats would be up for two-year terms, and which are up for four-year terms. That was done alphabetically by the letter assigned to each district.

That means that Sen. Tom Wagoner, R-Kenai, would be up for re-election for a four-year term. Wagoner currently represents the urban Kenai/Soldotna district, as well a district that encompasses many of the surrounding communities, including Nikiski, Sterling and Kasilof. His new territory would include the urban district and the South Peninsula district, which runs from Kasilof to Homer.

The other Peninsula senate representatives would also change.

Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, currently represents the Homer district. Under the new plan, he would represent some rural parts of the borough, including Tyonek and Seldovia, which are part of the Bristal Bay/East Aleutians and Kodiak/Cordova districts. He would be up for re-election for a two-year term.

North Kenai, a district that stretches from Nikiski to Seward and includes Cooper Landing and Hope, would share a senator with a South Anchorage/Girdwood house district. That senator will be up for a two-year term. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, currently represents what is now district P and includes some the territory in the new district.

All state representatives will be on the ballot in 2012 as well, because members of the state House serve two-year terms.

The board’s proclamation also included a population analysis, showing the size of each district. All of the Peninsula districts are within about 3 percent of the ideal district size of 17,755 people. Just one district that represents the Peninsula, the Bristol Bay/Aleutians East district that includes Tyonek, is considered an Alaska Native district, with 71.45 percent of the voting population responding to the U.S. census that they are Alaska Native.

Preserving Alaska Native districts and ensuring that each district is as close to the same population as possible are two of the board’s mandates in redrawing the lines.

The board has spent the last several months using U.S. census data to redraw districts for the state House and Senate as is required every decade by the state constitution. The board’s work is now done, but could see a legal challenge in the next 30 days.

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