Assembly redistricting tiff surfaces

Rosemary Shinohara

A flap emerged at Tuesday night's Anchorage Assembly meeting over a presentation by Assembly chairwoman Debbie Ossiander to the Alaska Redistricting Board.

In comments at the beginning of the Assembly meeting, Assembly member Harriet Drummond said she was concerned that comments were submitted without Assembly input.

Ossiander responded that she thought her presentation was non-controversial. She said she told the board the redistricting plan should protect Anchorage neighborhoods. She said there are concerns with the notion of combining a piece of South Anchorage with neighborhoods on the Kenai Peninsula. Northeast Anchorage should not be split into different districts, she said, but it's OK to combine Peters Creek with the Mat-Su Borough.

Mayor Dan Sullivan also submitted comments to the redistricting board. He said his comments emphasized sticking to community council boundaries and natural geographic boundaries.

Drummond and fellow Assembly member Elvi Gray-Jackson have written a counter-view of their own, addressed to the redistricting board. Their letter says the matter has not been considered by the Assembly, and that the two do not support "the plan advocated by the mayor and one Assembly member."

Their letter says, "Regrettably, it appears that the Mayor and others have tried to manipulate our non-partisan Assembly in order to try to accomplish the Republican Party's partisan goals."

The plan unnecessarily includes some incumbent legislators in the same district, Drummond and Gray-Jackson said.

Sullivan said in an interview that the administration's position has nothing to do with party politics, but is an Anchorage position.

Ossiander, apologizing at the Assembly meeting, said that while she identified herself to the redistricting board as the Assembly chairwoman, she did not say it was an official representation of the Assembly's position.