Hitting the road: Redistricting maps to be shown in local hearings

Proposed maps will be presented in series of Town Hall meetings

The Alaska Redistricting Board is taking six proposals for reshaping the state’s electoral map on the road in a series of public meetings meant to garner public feedback.

The board’s first draft proposals were met with criticism from a variety of groups including Democratic lawmakers, Alaska Native corporations and watchdog groups and new proposals have been drafted.

New versions of district maps were released to the Empire late Tuesday afternoon from the board. Deputy director of the Alaska Redistricting Board, T.J. Presley, told the Empire a full schedule for public meetings hadn’t been drafted but the board scheduled one for Centennial Hall in Juneau on Monday, Sept. 27, at 4:30 p.m.

Members of the public were allowed to draft and submit their own plans and the board has already heard several rounds of public feedback. The statement said the updated proposals will reflect maps from several state groups, including a coalition of Doyon, Ltd., the Tanana Chiefs Conference, the Fairbanks Native Association, Sealaska Corp., and Ahtna Inc.; Alaskans for Fair and Equitable Redistricting; Alaskans for Fair Redistricting and the Senate minority caucus.

The Alaska Constitution says appointments to the redistricting board shall be made without regard to political affiliation, but the majority of its members are chosen by elected officials who often belong to political parties. The board is made up of five members with two appointed by the governor. The Senate president, speaker of the House of Representatives and chief justice of the Alaska Supreme Court are allowed one each.

Board members Bethany Marcum and Budd Simpson were appointed by Gov. Mike Dunleavy, John Binkley by the Senate, Nicole Borromeo by the House and Melanie Bahnke was appointed by the judiciary, according to the governor’s office.

Adoption of the final plan is constitutionally required by Nov. 10, 2021, the statement said, and the board will now begin a public meetings tour. The dates and locations of the meetings have not yet been posted.

Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.