Anchorage mayor sues redistricting board

Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Mayor George Wuerch sued the Alaska Redistricting Board on Wednesday on behalf of the municipality of Anchorage, with the help of Republican Party officials and without the agreement of the Anchorage Assembly.

A half-dozen other communities and a handful of Republican leaders also met the deadline for challenging an election map that House Speaker Brian Porter, R-Anchorage, called ''obviously gerrymandering'' and that others say violates the state constitution by splitting communities and forcing nonlike regions together.

The lawsuits are a response to new legislative districts drawn by the Alaska Redistricting Board. State law requires that districts be redrawn to match each decade's U.S. Census population estimates.

Anchorage's suit, joined by several assembly members, claims the city would have been better linked with Matanuska-Susitna Borough than in districts with Valdez and that the military bases should not have been combined in a single district.

Wuerch said the city will not spend money on the case or directly pay for an attorney. The city is providing in-kind services to Ken Jacobus, the attorney for the Alaska Republican Party, who will represent the city.

Jacobus said he is not sure who will pay his fees. Republican Party Chairman Randy Ruedrich said he encouraged Jacobus to work with the city and that he might help raise money for Jacobus' fees.

Ruedrich, Jacobus, and Wuerch said that the city's lawsuit was nonpartisan, despite the Republicans' involvement.

The Anchorage Assembly had said Wuerch should not recommend a reapportionment plan on behalf of the city without assembly approval. Last week, it rejected his request for $50,000 to support private citizens' reapportionment efforts.

In addition to Anchorage, the communities of Craig, Valdez, Wasilla, Delta Junction and Aleutians East Borough filed separate suits. Republican leaders Porter, Senate President Rick Halford, R-Chugiak, Ruedrich and party National Committeewoman Debra Joslin also filed suits.

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