SITKA — Community leaders in Sitka are reacting with concern to a legislative redistricting proposal that would split the island community of nearly 9,000 into two state House districts.
The Sitka Assembly on Tuesday will consider a resolution opposing the proposal. Critics say the plan would diminish the town’s legislative influence.
The plan was proposed by a group, Alaskans for Fair and Equitable Redistricting, led by state Republican Party of Alaska chairman Randy Ruedrich.
Sitka election precincts on the south side of the city would join a new House district with Ketchikan, while Halibut Point Road residents would vote with residents of downtown Juneau. The Sitka Sentinel says residents on opposite sides of town would be represented by different state senators.
Various groups have submitted redistricting plans to the state board, which is expected to release a draft plan by Thursday.
Mayor Cheryl Westover and Assemblyman Larry Crews joined local Democrats in expressing concern about the proposal by the group headed by Ruedrich.
“I’m not in favor of any plan that splits Sitka,” Westover told the Sitka Sentinel. She plans to get more involved in the process once draft plans showing the new districts are released, she said.
The Alaska Redistricting Board is working on plans to create new legislative districts in response to population shifts reported in the 2010 U.S. Census. The Mat-Su area north of Anchorage will gain a House seat, while southeast Alaska is expected to lose one. Fairbanks gained residents in the last 10 years while the population of the rural interior declined.
The plans made public so far, submitted by groups around the state, include various ideas for how to redraw Southeast, with implications for a pair of Southeast Republicans, Rep. Peggy Wilson of Wrangell and Sen. Bert Stedman.
A final decision on redistricting is expected in June.