Redistricting Plan Holding Up Against Lawsuits
One lawsuit dropped; judge rules against another
The new legislative map drawn by the Alaska Redistricting Board continues to hold up against legal challenges. One former litigant, the Fairbanks North Star Borough, has dropped out altogether; the city of Petersburg has narrowed its claims; and then Monday a superior court judge ruled against Petersburg on the issue of whether new house district 32 is compact enough under the state constitution.
The city of Petersburg objected to being shifted into a new district with downtown Juneau, Gustavus, Skagway and Tenakee Springs. On the redistricting board’s map, it shows the revised house district 32, now represented by Beth Kerttula of Juneau.
The board argued that with the federal requirement under the Voting Rights Act to preserve a so-called “Native influence” district in Southeast – including the Haines Borough – there were few choices left on how to draw the other districts in the region.
“We’re proud of the fact that we got significantly less lawsuits filed against the plan during this process than we’ve seen in previous processes,” said Taylor Bickford, Director of the Alaska Redistricting Board. “So the board’s been proud of that since the lawsuits were filed, and now to see the parties starting to scale back their complaints and some of the parties starting to drop out, and of course, this decision today.”
A trial is still scheduled for next month on a lawsuit by two residents of the Fairbanks North Star Borough, who object to some of that urban area being joined with rural villages all the way west to the Bering Sea – and the city of Petersburg could choose to appeal Monday’s ruling.
Every redistricting map since statehood has gone to the Supreme Court.