Matanuska-Susitna Borough

MSB files appeal on redistricting case

Mat-Su | Jennifer Dawkins | Thursday, February 17, 2022

Today the Matanuska-Susitna Borough filed an appeal of the trial court ruling on the 2021 Redistricting case.

The Borough challenged several points of the Alaska Redistricting Board’s plan which sets House and Senate Districts in Alaska. Among other arguments, the Borough argued that the Board diluted the power of voters in the Mat-Su Borough by including more people in each district, improperly paired Mat-Su with the community of Valdez, and improperly carved out the Cantwell area from a house district. The redistricting map has 7 of the 40 house districts overpopulated by more than 2%, and 5 of those 7 districts are in the Mat-Su Borough. When considering the Mat-Su Borough, the board first “locked in” other areas of the state and refused to consider changes to house districts within Anchorage, Fairbanks, or western Alaska.   

In a 171-page order issued on Tuesday, Judge Thomas Matthews rejected Mat-Su’s challenges while at the same time finding the board engaged in secretive meetings and violating the State’s Open Meetings act by going behind closed doors.  This marks the second redistricting cycle in a row that the board was found to be in violation of the Open Meetings Act.  Judge Matthews did not make the board disclose communications within those closed door meetings, did not make the board disclose hundreds of pages of communications among the board members, and let most of the plan stand.  The Mat-Su Borough is challenging the rulings on its claims and will also be asking the Alaska Supreme Court void the entire plan because of the Board’s closed-door and secretive process.   Mat-Su’s challenge was required to be filed quickly because the Supreme Court must issue a ruling by April 1, 2022.

Contact information: Nicholas Spiropoulos, Borough Attorney (907) 861-8677

A copy of Judge Matthews’ order and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough’s appeal is attached