FAIRBANKS – The Alaska Redistricting Board produced three new rough draft maps for the Alaska election districts during a work session Thursday.
The maps are the first court-mandated step to producing a new map after the board was sent to redraw its plan after the state Supreme Court found it hadn’t followed the proper process in its first attempt.
The three draft plans are available at akredistricting.org.
House District 38 had been the center of the lawsuit brought by area residents George Riley and Ron Dearborn. The district, which was found to be unconstitutional, combined Ester and parts of Goldstream Valley with a rural district reaching to the Bering Sea.
The board had argued it was a necessary deviation to comply with the federal Voting Rights Act. The courts declined to rule on that issue because the board hadn’t followed what’s called the “Hickel Process,” which was set out by an earlier lawsuit.
In deciding House District 38 was unconstitutional, the courts ruled that it failed to meet standards for a cohesive socio-economic area.
Two of the three plans still split off large chunks of the Fairbanks population to bolster a rural district.
Both plans A and B have nearly identical layouts for the Interior. With a large, redrawn House District 38 swallowing much of Goldstream Valley, Chena Hot Springs Road and parts of Ester into a district that spans much of the Interior rivers area.
It wraps around the borough, including much of the Yukon River drainage, upper Tanana River and upper Kuskokwim River. It includes towns and villages like Cantwell, Tok, Nenana, Fort Yukon, Kaltag, McGrath and Allakaket.
Those two plans would maintain current Senate pairings, which are largely credited with ousting Democratic senators in the 2012 elections.
Plan D, however, draws districts that largely keep the borough’s population to districts within its boundaries and has districts that are roughly similar to ones used before the 2012 elections.
Ester and Goldstream Valley are joined by Chena Ridge into its own House District 1. That district is paired with House District 2, which includes much of the Farmers Loop area, Chena Hot Springs Road and Fox.
Under Plan D, the senate pairings would return largely to what they were before the 2012 election, with the city of Fairbanks getting its own Senate seat, North Pole would be paired with a district spanning south to Valdez and the northern areas of the borough would get their own district.
The Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly took a preliminary look at new election district maps during its work session Thursday night.
The assembly initially had filed suit against the board but withdrew, instead offering support to Dearborn and Riley.
The assembly unanimously decided to delay any decisions on whether to continue its support to the next meeting.
The Redistricting Board is expected to continue work today. It’s scheduled to begin public meetings and hearings its plans, and ones submitted by third parties, in Anchorage next week and in Fairbanks on July 1.
Contact staff writer Matt Buxton at 459-7544 and follow him on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.