Opposition to Proposed Redistricting Plan
By Gavin Hudson, Metlakatla
September 12, 2021
This begs the question, are there any local interests shared between Metlakatla and Sitka? Sitka is 200 miles away from Metlakatla. That would be like putting Anchorage and Fairbanks in the same district, or putting Seattle in the same district as Eugene, Oregon. That is the same distance as New York City is from our nation’s capital, Washington D.C.
If that sounds extreme, hold onto your seats because this one will really get you, consider that Yakutat is a whopping 565 miles away from Metlakatla! That would be like Anchorage being in the same district as Nome. If that measure was used to draw districts down south, we would have to force Seattle, Washington into the same district as San Francisco, California! That is the same distance as New York City is from Charlotte, North Carolina. What "local" interest could residents of NYC possibly have with those in Charlotte?
Meanwhile, Ketchikan and Saxman, just 15 miles, a stone’s throw, away from Metlakatla, would be separated from us completely. This is especially baffling when one considers that Ketchikan’s economy is tied directly to Metlakatla’s. Ketchikan is our hub, it is where we go for access to shopping, hospitals, eyecare, haircuts, automotive repair, federal offices, U.S. District Court, Ketchikan International Airport, Alaska Marine Highway, not to mention all our friends and relatives, and air taxis and the Inter Island Ferry to our next nearest neighbors on Prince of Wales Island.
I propose a better way. Within a 100-mile radius of Metlakatla we can find Wrangell, Meyers Chuck, Loring, Ketchikan, Saxman, and all the towns and cities on Prince of Wales Island. A district made up of these communities makes a lot more sense for several reasons:
1. Geography. Just one glance at a map and you can see the communities that comprise the area known as Southern Southeast are a natural fit. Our proximity to one another is exemplified by the great old basketball rivalries we have with our neighbors.
2. Economy. Ketchikan, POW, and Metlakatla share converging economic interests. Many of the residents of POW commute to Ketchikan for the same reasons Metlakatlans do. If we want to catch the latest Marvel superhero movie, we go see it at the Coliseum Twin Theater in downtown Ketchikan. Millions of dollars every year flow between these nearby towns.
3. Energy. We are closer than we have ever been to completing the long-awaited electrical intertie between Ketchikan and Metlakatla. Just when the finish line is within sight, the Redistricting Board would divorce us, adding further complications to a vital project that is long overdue.
There can be no doubt that the challenges we are facing demand our communities rely on one another to pull through tough times, neighbor helping neighbor, working toward a mutual benefit for the region of Southern Southeast Alaska. We need a redistricting plan that reflects that common sense. I encourage you to email the Alaska Redistricting Board at firstname.lastname@example.org to voice your opposition to this crazy map they’ve proposed. Thank you.
Received September 12, 2021 - Published September 12, 2021
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