ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The Anchorage Assembly could be seeing a transformation in April when the city votes on whether or not to add a second seat to the downtown district, bringing it in-line with the municipality’s other five districts.
Downtown’s current representative, Christopher Constant submitted the proposal at the Oct. 8 assembly meeting where it passed 9-2.
“District one… for the last 30-plus years has had a single member,” Constant said. “The original single-member district was out in Eagle River, and after about 10 years it rotated to the downtown and never rotated away again.”
The current system is in-line with proportional representation.
“We have 25,000 residents in the downtown district, and 50,000, roughly, in the other districts,” Constant said. “Therefore we have one representative for the downtown and two for the other districts.”
But Constant also says that system disproportionately hurts residents of the single-member district.
“Should I be sick, or need to go on a vacation or have a conflict of interest, or should you just not like your representative, you, if you live in the downtown, only have half the representation, and you don't have an alternative,” he said.
The proposal also seeks to reapportion the districts following the 2020 census, which would even out the populations between the districts. Constant argues this is good for members of those other districts.
“They will have roughly 5% fewer members of the community seeking the time and interest of their representative members of the assembly,” he said.
The two assembly members representing Eagle River and Chugiak, Crystal Kennedy and Fred Dyson, were the sole no-votes against the proposal. Kennedy, at the meeting, raised concerns that adding a 12th member would weaken the power of each vote.
“The concern in Chugiak-Eagle River is that we then, actually end up diluting the vote,” Kennedy said. “For us, having to get six votes, now, to side with something going on in Eagle River can often be a challenge. Now, it would have to be seven.”
Constant also noted in his proposal that the additional seat would cost the city roughly $44,000 during its first year and $69,000 in the following years.
The proposal is set to go on the municipality’s April 7 ballot.
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