Anchorage mayor sues redistricting board

State GOP officials back Wuerch's effort

Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2001

ANCHORAGE - Mayor George Wuerch sued the Alaska Redistricting Board on Wednesday on behalf of the municipality of Anchorage, with the help of Republican Party officials and without the agreement of the Anchorage Assembly.

A half-dozen other communities, including Cordova, and a handful of Republican leaders also met the deadline for challenging the board's election map. House Speaker Brian Porter, an Anchorage Republican, called the plan "obviously gerrymandering" and others said it violated the state constitution by splitting communities and forcing dissimilar regions together.

The lawsuits are a response to new legislative districts drawn by the redistricting board. State law requires districts be redrawn to match each decade's U.S. Census population estimates.

Anchorage's suit, joined by several assembly members, claimed the city would have been better linked with the Matanuska-Susitna Borough than with Valdez. It also said military bases should not have been combined in a single district.

Wuerch said the city will not spend money on the case or directly pay for an attorney. The city is providing in-kind services to Ken Jacobus, the attorney for the Alaska Republican Party, who will represent the city.

Jacobus said he is not sure who will pay his fees. Republican Party Chairman Randy Ruedrich said he encouraged Jacobus to work with the city and that he might help raise money for Jacobus' fees.

Ruedrich, Jacobus, and Wuerch said that the city's lawsuit was nonpartisan, despite the Republicans' involvement.

The Anchorage Assembly had said Wuerch should not recommend a reapportionment plan on behalf of the city without assembly approval. Last week, it rejected his request for $50,000 to support private citizens' reapportionment efforts.

In addition to Anchorage, Cordova, Eyak, Craig, Valdez, Wasilla, Delta Junction and the Aleutians East Borough filed suits. Republican leaders Porter, Senate President Rick Halford, a Chugiak Republican, Ruedrich and party National Committeewoman Debra Joslin also filed suits.

Cordova, on Prince William Sound, objected to the board's plan because it would pair the city with a Southeast election district. Cordova wants to stay in the same district as other towns on Prince William Sound. In its lawsuit, the city argued Cordova is more closely integrated with the Prince William Sound communities and has little interaction with towns in Southeast. The suit was filed jointly with the Native village of Eyak, also on the Sound.

Empire reporter Kathy Dye contributed to this article.

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