Home Statewide Politics Redistricting Board Strikes Back: Southeast Edition

Redistricting Board Strikes Back: Southeast Edition


One of the biggest takeaway lessons for Southeast Alaska in the redistricting process is “litigation pays”.
The new district concept maps, released by the redistricting board on Monday, reflect the outcome of Petersburg’s recent lawsuit. Southeast Alaska is no longer split on a north – south axis that sent Petersburg’s representation to Beth Kerttula’s downtown Juneau district. The recently formed borough is now lumped in with Sitka’s freshman State Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins and veteran Senator Bert Stedman. Kreiss-Tomkins’s District 35 also picks up Tenakee Springs, a small community in the Hoonah-Angoon Census area known for its hot springs, and the northern half of Prince of Wales Island.
The southern half of Prince of Wales Island becomes part of Peggy Wilson’s district centering around Wrangell and Ketchikan. Cathy Munoz’s district remains largely untouched, and Beth Kerttula gains Haines. This east-west axis split doesn’t appear to do much more for the Alaska Native voice, unless Bill Thomas decides to return and make a challenge against Beth Kerttula in District 33. It does however appear to make the districts more geographically compact and socio-economically similar. District 35 now includes Sitka, Petersburg and several similarly rural fishing villages. Touristy northern southeast is lumped in with downtown Juneau, and southern southeast is consolidated around Ketchikan. 
Overall, the new districts should appease Petersburg’s challenge to the constitutionality of the 2012 districts and are status quo enough to prevent too much chaos in the upcoming election cycle, at least on a regional scale. Southeast still has to deal with the fact that its population growth isn’t keeping up with the rest of the state, but at least it should be better represented within the region. 
southeast comparison


  1. Several observations on the July 7 map:
    The Sitka/Petersburg House seat becomes more Republican by adding North Prince of Wales and taking out Hydaburg and Metlakatla. It was not necessary to make this swap, and it makes it more difficult for Rep. Kreiss-Tomkins in the next election.
    Rep. Kerttula appears to be drawn out of her current district and put in Rep. Munoz’s district, leaving the Downtown Juneau/Haines/Skagway/Gustavus seat with no incumbent.

  2. Neither Hydaburg nor Metlakatla voted for JKT in the last election, and NPW has pretty low voter turnout, so I don’t know that you can automatically write off his reelection as a lost cause. He was going to have to work hard either way, but my experience with Petersburg politics is that they’ll usually support status quo. If JKT can convince them that he’s willing and able to support their continued growth and development, he should do alright.
    I don’t see what you’re seeing with Kertulla’s district. Nothing changed in Munoz’s district except her picking up a small portion of Lemon Creek, and I’m pretty sure that that’s not where Beth lives. She lives on Douglas Island. You can see a better version of the map here.

  3. You are correct about Rep. Kerttula not being put in Rep. Munoz’s district. I was wrong about that.
    On the new Sitka/Petersburg/North Prince of Wales House district, it has definitely become more Republican. That is based on how the different precincts voted in the Presidential election. In the two North Prince of Wales precincts that are new to the district, Obama received 21.5% of the vote, whereas in Hydaburg and Metlakatla combined, Obama received 69.4%. While Rep. Kreiss-Tomkins got 2 less votes than his 2012 opponent in Hydaburg and 8 less than his opponent in Metlakatla, they are both heavily Democratic-voting towns, and the loss of these two towns will make it harder for Rep. Kreiss-Tomkins in the next election. That said, there is no reason he can’t win. It just makes it harder.
    Here are the presidential election results for the precincts that were added to the district and for the ones taken away (votes for other party candidates and write-ins are not shown, but are calculated into the percentages):
    Jurisdiction Wide Total Votes Obama Romney OBAMA % ROMNEY %
    33-630 North Prince of Wales 76 19 43 25.0% 56.6%
    33-680 Thorne Bay 217 44 154 20.3% 71.0%
    32-535 Petersburg-Kupreanof 1140 508 573 44.6% 50.3%
    32-545 Tenakee Springs 47 21 19 44.7% 40.4%
    NEW PRECINCTS TOTALS 1480 592 789 40.0% 53.3%
    34-710 Haines No. 1 846 402 388 47.5% 45.9%
    34-715 Haines No. 2 102 35 57 34.3% 55.9%
    34-725 Hydaburg 109 92 17 84.4% 15.6%
    34-745 Klukwan 42 24 17 57.1% 40.5%
    34-750 Metlakatla 472 311 136 65.9% 28.8%
    OLD PRECINCTS TOTALS 1571 864 615 55.0% 39.1%

    • My only counter argument would be that national Party lines aren’t exactly a reliable indicator for local elections, particularly in SE Alaska. Sitka, for example, supported Obama in the Presidential race, but heavily supported Steadman and Young with enough votes to JTK to give him an edge. Petersburg gave as many votes to Beth in 2012 as they did Peggy in 2010, (granted Beth was unchallenged, which was a surprise given that Petersburg had a popular challenger to Peggy in the 2010 Primary). I definitely think it will be an interesting race, and one of the ones I’m most excited to watch. Thanks for the commentary!