Redistricting board finalized as chief justice appoints Nome nonprofit CEO Bahnke

Melanie Bahnke, the president and CEO of Kawerak Inc., speaks about fostering greater acceptance of ivory carvings from her region at a forum in Washington, D.C., in 2019. Bahnke was appointed to the redistricting board on Thursday by Alaska Supreme Court Chief Justice Joel Bolger. (Photo by Liz Ruskin/Alaska Public Media)

The members of the board that will set Alaska’s legislative districts for the next decade have been finalized. 

Melanie Bahnke, the president and CEO of Nome-based regional nonprofit Kawerak Inc., was appointed Thursday to the fifth and final seat on the redistricting board by Alaska Supreme Court Chief Justice Joel Bolger. 

The board’s other four seats were filled last week.

Senate President Cathy Giessel appointed John Binkley of Fairbanks. Binkley is a former legislator whose family owns the Anchorage Daily News. 

House Speaker Bryce Edgmon appointed Nicole Borromeo of Anchorage. She is the general counsel and executive vice president of the Alaska Federation of Natives.

And Gov. Mike Dunleavy appointed Bethany Marcum of Anchorage and E. Budd Simpson of Juneau. Marcum was an aide to Dunleavy when he was a state senator. She is the executive director of the Alaska Policy Forum, a conservative think tank. Simpson is a lawyer who has served as outside counsel to the Sealaska Corporation.

The board rewrites boundaries based on federal census results, so its decisions affect who controls each chamber for 10 years.

The board will have 90 days to adopt a plan after it receives the census data, which is due March 31, 2021.

Andrew Kitchenman

State Government Reporter, Alaska Public Media & KTOO

State government plays an outsized role in the life of Alaskans. As the state continues to go through the painful process of deciding what its priorities are, I bring Alaskans to the scene of a government in transition.

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