Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 6:19 PM on Wednesday, September 21, 2011

District 8 assembly seat could have 1-year term



By Michael Armstrong
Staff Writer

Depending on how Kenai Peninsula Borough voters decide on Proposition 3, the winner of the District 8 Assembly seat — and other seats up for election — might have to run again in October 2012. Proposition 3 asks voters to choose two plans for reapportionment. Plan 1 keeps the current nine, single-member districts. Plan 2 would create 11 new single-member districts. Even if voters keep a nine-member assembly, some seats might come up for election in 2012.

Here are the scenarios that could happen:

• If voters choose an 11-member assembly, all 11 seats would be up for election in 2012. To keep all assembly members from standing for election in the same year, seats would be for staggered terms, with some seats 1-year terms, some 2-year terms and some 3-year terms.

• If voters choose a 9-member assembly, based on new district boundaries that ideally have a 6,156-person district, under borough law if the population of a current district increases by more than 10 percent, the candidate elected to that seat will have to run again in 2012.

• If voters choose a 9-member assembly and new boundaries for District 8 don't result in a population increase of more than 10 percent, the candidate elected to that seat won't have to run again in 2012 and keeps a 3-year seat.

Based on these scenarios, "There is no hard, fast 'yes, it's a 1-year term,'" said Borough Clerk Johni Blankenship.

Reapportionment for the assembly is driven by the U.S. Census. In 2002, after the 2001 census and reapportionment was decided, seven of nine assembly members had to run again, Blankenship noted.

After the October election and depending on how voters decide on Proposition 3, a committee with Blankenship, a representative from the Geographic Information Services department and three assembly members will work with the Alaska Division of Elections to draw new district lines. The assembly then approves those revised districts through ordinance. If revised districts have a more than 10 percent population increase, those members will stand for election again in 2012. The assembly also decides which of those seats will be 1-year, 2-year or 3-year positions. It's also possible that candidates elected to some seats might find themselves in different districts after new lines are drawn.

Because Alaska is one of the states subject to review under U.S. civil rights and voting rights laws, the U.S. Department of Justice also has to review revised assembly districts.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.

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