Friday, March 25, 2011

Ketchikan's Turn - and then Fairbanks Monday

OK, anyone in Ketchikan read this blog?  I'm not sure.

The Alaska Redistricting Board will be in Ketchikan SATURDAY.    Your district is one that's under the magic number of 17,755.  So the board is going to have to find about 3,422 people to merge into your district. Where will the come from?
District 1 - Ketchikan seat held by Rep. Kyle Johansen is 19% below the ideal at 14,333.
But they also have to consider how that will affect District 2 which is also low.
District 2 - Wrangell seat held by Rep. Peggy Wilson is below by 17% at 14,651.
So it would be hard to take people from that district unless . . . well you better come up with some scenarios of what to do.  That's why going to this meeting is important for you.  Even if you have no idea what this is about, this meeting will get you started.  It's seven hours but you can be there for as long or as short as you want.  Check out their maps. 

Then there is District 5 which surrounds 1, 2, and the two Juneau districts 3 and 4.  And it's the lowest of all and could face total annihilation. 

District 5 - Southeast District that includes Haines and wanders south to the Canadian border, surrounding Districts 1, 2, 3, and 4, currently held by Rep. Bill Thomas Jr., has the lowest population - 13,846 - 22% below the ideal size of 17,755.

There are criteria they have to use.  You can see the criteria here. 

Strategies for this Public Hearing

At Anchorage and from what I saw online in Juneau, not a lot of people showed up. They had lots of dead time where they were waiting around. So, I'd suggest this is a great time to talk to them at length. When you go to testify, stay at the mic and ask them questions.
  • Ask them what their parameters are?
  • Ask them how the Federal Voting Rights Act will apply to redrawing the lines in Southeast.
  • Engage them in conversation about all their criteria for drawing the lines and how they impact District 1.
  • Tell them what communities are most like yours and which ones are not ("socio-economic integration" is one of the criteria)
  • Ask them to show you how to figure out the numbers in the areas around you so you can help come up with a plan that best fits not only Ketchikan, but also works for the neighboring districts.
In Anchorage and Juneau people spoke and when they were done, the Board just sat around and waited for more people to come.

They're going to be there from noon to 7pm.

Use your testifying time to ask them questions and get them to talk.  I think they may be reluctant to do that, so you may have to ask them specific questions.  Like, "Is there a possibility you would merge us with part of Juneau?  Or Sitka?  Or Prince Rupert?  (I'm joking, but you can test them and see if they know it's in British Columbia.)

And even if they resist engaging as a Board (they may feel it violates the Public Meeting Law for them to discuss redistricting as a group since the public notice says it's for taking testimony and possibly an administrative meeting before the testimony), you should try.  And you certainly can engage them one-on-one and look at the maps with them when no one's testifying.  You might even want to bring them some cookies or smoked salmon.  

Also, there is one board member from Southeast - PeggyAnn McConnochie from Juneau.  She says she's been learning the computer software and is eager to use it.  And she said she wants to  come to all the Post-Plan meetings in Southeast.  (Right now is the Pre-Plan period - when they have 30 days from receiving the Census data until they have to produce a draft plan on April 14.  Then there will be 60 post-plan days and they will have a lot more public hearings then - but only two Board members (or one and the attorney) will come to those.  There's a list of all the places at the bottom of this linked page, but I don't think there are dates yet.)

You can see a brief video interview I did with Ms. McConnochie so you get a preview of what she's like. 

Take advantage of these folks being there for seven hours just to hear from you.  They won't all be there for the Post-Plan public hearing.

Here's the email announcement they sent out today (you can get on their email list at the bottom right of their website homepage.)

Ketchikan Public Hearing Advisory 
Anchorage, AK - The Alaska Redistricting Board will conduct a public hearing on Saturday, March 26 at the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly Chambers in Ketchikan, AK.

Date:  Saturday, March 26, 2011
Time:  12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. 
Location:  Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly Chambers
                  1900 First Avenue Ketchikan, AK   

If you plan to attend and are in need of assistance, please contact Board staff by telephone at (907) 269-7402 or email at

The Alaska Redistricting Board is responsible for redrawing Alaska's legislative election districts every ten years after the federal Census.  For more information about the redistricting process in Alaska, please visit


Alaska Redistricting Board
411 W. 4th Avenue, Suite 302
Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: (907) 269-7499  

Just above the title of this post (and under the orange header) there is a tab labeled Alaska Redistricting Board.  It has a guide to all the posts I've done on the board.  You can also get to it here.

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