FAIRBANKS — Attorneys challenging a proposed Alaska redistricting plan want to scrutinize closed meetings held by the board that developed the map, they said during a court hearing this week.
The proposed map was approved by the Alaska Redistricting Board in June but has drawn three lawsuits challenging the new boundaries. Ester resident George Riley and the Fairbanks North Star Borough are among those who filed the lawsuits, saying parts of West Fairbanks have been inappropriately lumped into a sprawling rural district that stretches to the Bering Sea coastline.
Borough attorney Jill Dolan and Mike Walleri, who is representing Riley, both said they plan to study whether executive sessions held by the Redistricting Board followed the Open Meetings Act. They said more information is needed about why the board held some closed meetings, which are allowed in only limited circumstances.
“They have to lay the foundation of going into executive session,” Walleri said.
Michael White, an Anchorage attorney who helped the state defend its 2001 redistricting plan, called the executive session issue a “gigantically huge red herring.” He described the process as the most open in the state’s history and said the board only held seven closed sessions.
“We’re not talking about hundreds or thousands or even tens,” he said.
Superior Court Judge Michael McConahy on Tuesday scheduled a November hearing to review evidence before a January trial that is expected to last two weeks.