Assembly Approves Redistricting Plan, Passes on Single Member Districts

Photo by Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage

The Anchorage Assembly approved a final redistricting plan on Tuesday night and rejected proposals that would have put propositions on the April 2 ballot to create single member districts for the Anchorage Assembly and School Board.

Airport Heights Community Council President, Garen Tarr, delivered a resolution supporting the final redistricting plan. The plan moved the Penland Park Mobile Home park from the Airport Heights Assembly District, into the Downtown District.

“We had discussed that at our meeting and understood that because of Department of Justice needs to not be malapportioned that we would need to have that separation to make those numbers match up. So, we’d prefer because they are part of our community council area to have everybody together but understand due to those restrictions, that that’s not possible,” Tarr said.

The redistricting plan passed 10 to 1, with Assembly member Patrick Flynn the no vote.

Next, the Assembly considered two proposals by Assembly Member Chris Birch that would amending the Municipal Charter and creating single-member districts for both the Assembly and the School Board by way of ballot propositions. Birch argued that 11 single-member Assembly districts with 3-year terms would insure more accountability. Birch’s Assembly district proposal didn’t make it to a vote — but the assembly did adopt

Flynn’s version, that would mandate three-year-terms. Birch also proposed a charter amendment that would expand the School Board from 7 to 11 members and align members to districts similar to existing Assembly districts. Right now School board members are elected by voters citywide. School Board member Nathasha Von Imhof spoke out against it.

“What I can speak right now is that the school board, how stands now works. We put our cap on that we represent every student and divvy up the city and try to represent and overall view,” Von Imhof said.

Some assembly members argued that increasing the number of school board members and aligning them with more neighborhoods could increase diversity on the School Board. The proposal was  voted down with four in favor and seven against.

Community member David Nees told the Assembly that, regardless of the Assembly’s rejection, he is gathering signatures for petitions to get versions of both the Assembly and School Board single-member propositions on the April 2 Municipal ballot.

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Daysha Eaton is a contributor with the Alaska Public Radio Network. Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage. Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email. Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.

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