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Borough ordinance offers restructuring options

Posted: Tuesday, May 07, 2002

Hoping to initiate discussion among assembly members and the public, Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly President Tim Navarre has proposed an ordinance that would offer voters this fall two ways to restructure the Kenai Peninsula Board of Education.

Ordinance 2002-16 is set for introduction today when the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meets at 7 p.m. at Seward City Hall.

One, labeled Plan A, would retain the status quo of electing all seven members at large. Plan B also would elect members at large, but winners would have to reside in specific districts, Navarre said.

Plan B differs from the recommendation made by a school district reapportionment committee in December. That committee had proposed allowing voters to choose between retaining the current system of electing all members at large or electing members strictly by district.

Electing by district, especially without going to a nine-member board whose districts would mirror assembly districts -- an idea rejected by the committee -- would be problematic for borough election officials because of overlapping district boundary lines, Navarre said.

The state currently is working on new House and Senate districts as required by the latest national census. The assembly is set to solidify nine new assembly district boundaries, which are not a perfect match to state precinct boundaries. Adding still another set of lines to accommodate a seven-member school board by-district election would create confusion, Navarre said.

"I realize the proposed plans are different from the recommendations of the Reapportionment Committee, but I look forward to a healthy debate with both the assembly and members of the public," he said in a memo to the assembly.

All the options are still on the table, Navarre said. What came out of the committee and discussions with the public and the school board, he said, was that a ballot measure shouldn't have more than two options. Three could lead to none acquiring enough votes to pass.

"Would we have a runoff election for a ballot measure," he said. "I think the wishes of the assembly will be to pick the two best choices and put them to the voters. What they may be is anybody's guess."

Navarre said he personally favors election by district. He said he will listen to public comment, but he has heard a strong message from residents of outlying areas expressing concern over losing representation on the board in at-large elections.



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