Craig opts to sue over legislative redistricting

Posted: Friday, June 22, 2001

CRAIG - The Craig City Council voted unanimously Thursday to sue the state over a redistricting plan that would put Prince of Wales Island communities in separate House districts.

Under the new redistricting plan, Hollis and Thorne Bay on the eastern side of the Southeast Alaska island would be placed in the Ketchikan House district represented by Rep. Bill Williams, a Saxman Republican, and Sen. Robin Taylor, a Wrangell Republican.

The rest of the island, including Craig, Klawock and Hydaburg, would remain in a House district represented by Rep. Albert Kookesh, an Angoon Democrat. However, it also would be included in a new Senate district that extends all the way to Russian Village on the lower Yukon River and Arctic Village 100 miles north of Fairbanks.

Craig Mayor Dennis Watson said the plan ignores rules governing districts.

"It just seems incredible to us that anyone would consider putting us in a House or a Senate district that was spread all over the state of Alaska," Watson said. "I mean, this whole business of commonality and contiguous borders just goes out the window."

Craig officials said they hoped the Prince of Wales Community Advisory Council will join the suit. Prince of Wales is part of the unorganized borough, and the council deals with matters that concern the entire island. Council Chairman Jon Bolling said its main concern was to keep Prince of Wales in a single House district.

The Valdez City Council voted Monday to file a lawsuit also challenging the redistricting plan, which would link the Prince William Sound community to a portion of South Anchorage.

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