Borough lines drawn in boundary changes

Posted: Tuesday, April 09, 2002

Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly district boundaries are about to undergo wholesale changes.

Revisions to the nine districts were required because of population growth and redistribution during the 1990s. A reapportionment committee consisting of three assembly members and borough Clerk Linda Murphy drew up the new boundaries to better match existing population distribution.

Approval will require that some current members stand for re-election earlier than expected, and four candidates elected in those races in October will win one- or two-year terms instead of the normal three years in order to provide a rotation in future elections over the next decade.

Seven of the nine seats will be up for election in October.

The revised boundaries were introduced April 2 in Ordinance 2002-10, which gets a public hearing May 7. Colored maps of the proposed districts may be obtained from the borough clerk's office.

Last year, following the results of the 2000 census, the assembly declared itself malapportioned and sent a pair of apportionment plans to the voters. On Oct. 2, 2001, voters approved retaining the assembly's nine single-member districts.

Now, the assembly must adopt legal descriptions for those districts that comply with the equal representation requirements of the U.S. Constitution. The proposed new boundaries, which are still subject to minor adjustments following public hearings, generally follow state precinct lines, ensuring simplicity and accuracy in future elections.

Some districts would see little in the way of boundary adjustment, others a great deal. Some would have to compensate for changes to the municipal boundaries of Homer, which recently annexed more than 4 square miles of surrounding territory.

The Homer-Kachemak City district, Assembly District 8, would grow to include this new territory that lies mostly to the north and east. District 8 also would gain territory on the west side of Cook Inlet south of Chinitna Bay, land currently part of District 3, Nikiski.

The changes to Homer would require a reduction in Assembly District 9, a horseshoe-shaped district circling Homer and Kachemak Bay from Diamond Ridge to Seldovia.

The eastern boundary of the Soldotna district, Assembly District 4, would follow a revised state precinct line, its southern boundary would include a portion of Funny River Road, and its western boundary would be adjusted to compensate for the added population attributable to the eastern and southern adjustments.

Those changes would require new boundaries for Kenai South's Assembly District 1, and Sterling's Assembly District 5. Sterling would add significant territory to the north in an area currently split between District 3, Nikiski, and District 6, Seward, and to the south into territory now in the Tustumena district, Assembly District 7.

The Nikiski district would get new southern and eastern boundaries and lose a portion of its territory on the west side of Cook Inlet to District 8, while Assembly District 6, the Seward district, would add unpopulated land to its western boundary under the proposed scheme.

The new boundaries will require truncating the terms of four assembly members who must run for re-election in October. Seats 1 and 9, held respectively by Bill Popp of Kenai South and Milli Martin of Diamond Ridge, will be on the ballot as one-year terms. Popp's and Martin's current terms were due to expire in 2003.

Seats 4 and 7, held respectively by Pete Sprague of Soldotna and Paul Fischer of Tustumena, will be on the ballot as two-year terms. Their current terms were due to expire in 2004.

Seats 2, 5 and 8, held respectively by assembly President Tim Navarre of Kenai North, Grace Merkes of Sterling and Chris Moss of Homer, will be on the ballot as full three-year terms. Each seat was to have been up for election this year in any case.

Only Seats 3 and 6, held by Gary Superman of Nikiski and Ron Long of Seward, escaped truncation. District 3's boundaries were altered, but the change in population was less than that requiring a new election. District 6's adjustment made no change at all in its population. Thus, Superman and Long will serve out their current terms, which expire in 2004 and 2003, respectively.



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