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Ordinance proposes changes to assembly district lines

Posted: May 5, 2014 - 8:52pm

Some Kenai Peninsula Borough residents may find themselves in different assembly districts, if a proposed ordinance passes.

Ordinance 2014-14, which will be introduced at Tuesday’s assembly meeting, looks to revise borough assembly and board of education district boundaries to more closely align with the new precinct boundaries.

In July 2013, the Alaska Redistricting Board set new boundaries for Alaska House and Senate districts. The Division of Elections finalized the precinct boundaries to comply with the House and Senate districts in February 2014.

The proposed ordinance would eliminate some of the discrepancies between precinct and assembly boundaries, which would get rid of the need for multiple ballots in those precincts.

Changes are proposed to the boundaries of districts 1, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 9.

Assembly President Hal Smalley, at the request of borough clerk Johni Blankenship, is sponsoring the ordinance.

Blankenship said the changes will solve some the of the assembly and board of education district splits, but it won’t affect service area board divisions.

She said when the Division of Elections redrew its precinct lines, a few of the borough districts were off by a little bit. Those mismatched lines determine whether or not multiple ballots in a precinct are necessary.

Redrawing district lines to more closely match the new precinct boundaries will simplify election procedures for the borough and residents of the affected precincts, she said.

If the ordinance passes, Kasilof, Fox River, Kalifornsky Beach and Soldotna will no longer have assembly and school board splits, Blankenship said.

For previous elections, Blankenship said the borough had to print ballots for both districts in the precinct and provide a map for residents to determine which district they lived in within the precinct.

“Now when you go … to vote there’s only one ballot choice,” Blankenship said about the proposed affected precincts. “(It) eliminates that confusion. … Because we still have service areas that are split, we’re at this point not going to be able to eliminate having split precincts, but this helps with some of those ones that were (the Division of Elections) line versus (the assembly district) line.”

Districts 5, 6 and 7 would see slight population changes, if the ordinance passes.

When all population gains and loses are calculated, District 5 would see a loss of 23 people, District 6 would lose two residents and District 7 would gain 25 people.

District 7, represented by assembly member Brent Johnson and school board member Bill Holt, is one of the least populated districts. The change would bring the total up to 5,989.

To determine the optimal number of people per district, the population of the borough is divided by the number of assembly seats. When redrawing district lines, the district population must fall within ten percent of the preferred number, Blankenship said.

The ordinance is scheduled for a public hearing at the June 3 assembly meeting.

Kaylee Osowski can be reached at kaylee.osowski@peninsulaclarion.com.

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