The Alaska Redistricting Board has decided that every Alaska senator should stand for election next year whether their terms end or not, with the exception of Juneau’s Dennis Egan.
The board, meeting in Anchorage, decided that all districts except Egan’s had changed so much that it was only fair to their constituents they get a voice in who their senators would be as soon as possible.
Egan’s newly formed Juneau-based district is made up of 86.8 percent of his old district, along with the additions of Skagway, Petersburg, Gustavus and Tenakee Springs.
“I was dumbfounded when I saw the news,” Egan said.
While he said the board’s plan is likely to face court challenge, he’s looking forward to serving those communities, all of which he’s visited or even lived in.
Southeast’s other Senate district, into which both incumbent Sens. Albert Kookesh, D-Angoon, and Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, have been placed, is made up of 73.8 percent of the previous Southeast district.
Stedman said he didn’t object to that district’s being assigned an immediate election because he and Kookesh had both last run in 2008 and would have to stand for election in 2012 anyway.
Some of the districts created by the board differ so much from the current districts they have only 40 percent or less of their current constituents.
Today is the deadline for the board to produce its final plan. Monday’s meeting to assign term lengths to the district was one of the board’s last formal actions.
After that final plan is adopted today, opponents have 30 days to challenge it.
Egan said it is almost certain to wind up in court, but he’s happy with the district he’s been given. He and his wife have recently visited all of the communities within it, he said.
“We’ve been to every community that I may ultimately represent on our boat on vacation,” he said.
Governing the Redistricting Board’s decisions on when an early election should be held and when a previous term should stand was a precedent-setting case from 1972, Egan v. Hammond.
The Egan in that case was Bill Egan, then the state’s governor and father of the current Juneau senator; Hammond was Jay Hammond, a state senator who later became governor and may be best known as creator of the Alaska Permanent Fund.
• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.