Alaska Supreme Court upholds district pairing Skagway and Haines with Juneau’s Mendenhall Valley

A map showing proposed legislative districts in Southeast Alaska
The Alaska Supreme Court has upheld the redistricting board’s map that would change Skagway and Haines’ House district. (Courtesy akredistrict.org)

The Alaska Supreme Court struck down a lower court’s ruling that found the upper Lynn Canal and Juneau maps unconstitutional and required the redistricting board to revisit it. That means Skagway, Haines and upper Lynn Canal communities will be part of a new district with Juneau’s Mendenhall Valley rather than in a district with downtown Juneau.

The five-member court delivered its ruling on Friday afternoon, a week earlier than expected.

Skagway filed suit last year, challenging the redistricting board’s legislative map pairing it with the Mendenhall Valley by arguing that it was more socio-economically aligned with downtown Juneau.

Following the trial is political writer Matt Buxton, who runs the left-leaning political blog Midnight Sun.

“They found that the maps produced by the Alaska board did in fact, meet the constitutional requirements for compact, contiguous, and socioeconomically integrated. They specifically found that the lower court’s finding that public testimony needed to be taken into account more clearly really didn’t apply here,” he said.

Buxton says the court did not explain the ruling or why they found the public testimony requirement was fulfilled, but that may be addressed on April 1, when the court is expected to issue a full explanation for the ruling.

Upper Lynn Canal communities will no longer be represented by Juneau Democrat Sara Hannon but will be a part of the district represented by Democrat Andi Story of Juneau’s Mendenhall Valley. Her term ends in January 2023, and she has not yet declared intent to file for re-election.

The deadline for legislative candidates running for the new district is June 1.

KHNS - Haines

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