New maps from the Alaska Redistricting Board will change the shape and boundaries of the state’s legislative districts, based on population changes recorded in the 2020 Census.
But on the Kenai Peninsula, not much is likely to shift.
“The Kenai is one of the regions that did not have a huge amount of change," said TJ Presley, deputy director of the five-member Alaska Redistricting Board. The group redraws maps every decade based on new census data, which are then used to divvy up state legislative seats.
The board is considering multiple map drafts. It has to approve a final draft by Nov. 10.
The Kenai Peninsula Borough saw an increase in population from the 2010 to 2020 census of 6 percent. It was one of the few regions in the state that saw population growth.
“If you have more people packed into a single place, then naturally their geography’s gonna shrink a little bit because each box that you draw is going to have more people,” Presley said.
Presley said the biggest change the board is considering is moving the Fritz Creek area from District 31, which includes most of the southern half of the peninsula, to District 32, which includes Kodiak, Cordova and parts of the eastern peninsula. Fritz Creek has a little over 2,200 people, according to the 2020 Census.
The board might also move a small sliver of the K-Beach area into District 31. That patch of Kalifornsky is just south of Kenai and currently included in District 30, which is now just Kenai and Soldotna.
But district numbers are all subject to change during redistricting, too.
While the district parameters are largely the same between 2010 and now on the peninsula, they’re referred to in the new maps as Districts 6, 7 and 8.
The board is considering two versions of its map.
The main difference is regarding south Knik, an area that straddles the border between Anchorage and the Mat-Su and has just under 800 people.
Version one of the board’s map loops that area into Anchorage’s map. Version two keeps it in the Mat-Su.
Each version also draws Anchorage's districts differently.
The Kenai Peninsula is divided the same between those versions.
Choosing a final map
The redistricting board is meeting Friday. Presley said they’re encouraging people and organizations to draw and submit their own full maps for consideration. Each party will have 30 minutes to present their maps Friday.
Presley said crowdsourcing maps is a helpful way to incorporate public input while also adhering to the time constraints in the Alaska Constitution. He said the board has already received five or six maps and that they’re still accepting drawings — and written testimony on its own drafts — at akredistrict.org.
In 2010, the board adopted for consideration two of its own maps and three third-party maps. It took all five on the road, during the public hearing process.
"If we follow the 2010 model, we will adopt a few of the third-party maps, only for purposes of discussion, so that we can bring them around the state and talk about them," Presley said.
He said the map the board ultimately chose was a composite of multiple designs.
The 2010 redistricting process had a bigger impact on the peninsula’s districts. Before then, most of the peninsula outside the immediate Kenai-Soldotna area was included in one large district. Now, that area includes two separate districts, Districts 29 and 31.
Aside from the public presentations, there will also be time for public testimony at Friday’s meeting.
To join the meeting Friday at 9 a.m., dial 844-586-9085.