By Naomi Klouda
Redistricting amendments now have placed Halibut Cove and Seldovia back in league with Homer, instead of shifting those communities to the Kodiak voting district.
That is one of the changes in the latest draft of the Alaska Redistricting project that soon places Homer in what is currently Republican Sen. Thomas Wagoner’s Senate District O. Homer, for just a few more weeks, is part of Republican Sen. Gary Stevens’ Senate District R.
Even though the Alaska Legislature has adjourned from its regular session, it faces a special session starting today. This, with a heavy campaign season ahead, means little time to look at a cramped election season ahead.
So far, no one has filed to challenge Wagoner, Stevens or Seaton.
June 1 is the Alaska Division of Elections deadline to file for office. The primary election is Aug. 28 and the general election is Nov. 6.
Since the Alaska Redistricting Board is still at work satisfying federal election requirements, the new election boundaries are not yet approved.
Taylor Bickford, executive director of the board, said that, nonetheless, there shouldn’t be voter confusion when it comes to boundaries for the upcoming election season.
“The (redistricting) board will have completed its work adopting an amended plan in accordance with the Supreme Court order,” Bickford said. “Once that is done, the legal team files a notice of compliance with Superior Court. It then takes a month or so to determine if the new plan follows the Supreme Court order. Then it could potentially be appealed back to the state court.”
In the meantime, there are two possible outcomes:
“The amended plan to be adopted and — if it gets approved by state courts and the federal government in time for the filing deadline — allows we can transition into new plan for next 10 years,” Bickford said.
The public review portion closed Monday evening, with one objection received from Petersburg.
Option two is to use the 2012 redistricting plan for the interim until it receives official approval, Bickford said. If it comes to that, the court needs to approve a petition from the board.
What Alaska can’t do is go back to the old district maps currently being discarded. It is considered mal-apportioned in its Alaska Native voter populations, which is what triggered redistricting.
Seaton said it made sense to place Seldovia and Halibut Cove back with Homer.
“They have a lot in common with Homer as a social-economic unit,” Seaton said.
In his re-election bid, Seaton will be getting to know new constituents added to District 35 in the redrawn maps. These include communities closer to the central portion of the Kenai Peninsula, such as those on Funny River Road.
At the same time, Homer and other southern peninsula voters will be getting to know Wagoner’s positions on issues.
Seaton doesn’t anticipate there will be much difference between a normal election year and a redistricted election year.
“It is pretty much everyone running his or her own individual race in their own district. There isn’t a lot of difference between an election year with redistricting, especially for someone who is not an incumbent,” he said.