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Redistricting challenge filed in court

Posted: July 25, 2013 - 9:28pm  |  Updated: July 26, 2013 - 12:07am

JUNEAU — A challenge to Alaska’s new redistricting map was filed Thursday, claiming a handful of districts are not constitutional as drawn.

The challenge was filed on behalf of Fairbanks-area residents George Riley and Ron Dearborn, who had sued over an earlier redistricting plan in 2011. An attorney for the men, Jason Gazewood, had warned that a challenge to the new map was planned.

The complaint alleges that Fairbanks-area House and Senate districts; House Districts 9 and 12, which include parts of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough; and House District 32, which includes part of the Kenai Peninsula Borough, do not meet state constitutional requirements.

The challenge seeks to have a master or masters appointed to advise the court on any necessary changes. Gazewood said in an interview that the Alaska Redistricting Board has had multiple opportunities to draw a workable map, and bringing in masters would not be unheard of.

Michael White, an attorney for the board, defended the new map. He said the board is confident the plan met constitutional and legal requirements and will be upheld.

He said the board had to make tough choices and sees this challenge as coming from “partisan-minded people who don’t have the best interest of the state in mind and care only about their own political house districts.”

The city of Petersburg, which also sued in 2011, has filed notice that it is not objecting to how the board drew districts in southeast Alaska under the latest plan.

The Alaska Supreme Court ordered a new map be drawn for the 2014 elections after allowing an interim plan to be used for 2012 races.

The board submitted its latest plan to a judge for review last week.

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