As faithful readers know, this coming Tuesday (April 3) features our municipal election. What some may not know is that, even though there are no Assembly seats at stake (“only” the mayor’s office, three school board seats and various ballot propositions are up for consideration), the Assembly will reorganize at our April 17 meeting.
At that time the only decisions we’ll make are who will serve as chair and vice-chair for the next 12 months. Regarding the former, Ernie Hall has expressed an interest and I’m not aware of anyone else seeking to manage (ride herd on?) our unruly mob. As to the latter, I’ve heard several names floated but no consensus as to who might sit to Ernie’s left.
Looking a little further downstream, following election the chair has the unenviable task of determining committee assignments, including who will chair those committees. Given that most Assembly members seem to enjoy the roles they have that may be simpler this year than it has in the past, but maybe not. I think it’s fair to expect some folks to lobby for changes in the weeks ahead, seeking commitments prior to that April 17 meeting.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court’s rejection of the state reapportionment plan also affects matters municipal. For the first time since the formation of the Municipality of Anchorage reapportionment of Assembly districts will not proceed until the state process is completed. Here’s why that matters:
If there are substantial changes to Assembly districts then terms currently slated to end in 2014 could instead end in 2013 with candidates vying to “finish” those terms (seeking election for a single-year term, prior to potentially running for a full three-year term). But, should the state reapportionment process linger long enough, it’s possible that Assembly districts could change dramatically without truncating terms. That might cause about a year’s worth of confusion as folks contact members who, presuming they achieve future re-election, will represent them but, based on the former districts under which they were elected, may not technically represent those same folks. Confused yet?
If not, there’s another rub. Our charter dictates that if the Assembly is apportioned into single member districts then terms shall be two years in length. If there are any multi-member districts then terms shall be three years. Currently there are five two-member districts and one single-member district, the latter happening to be the Downtown-Fairview-Government Hill-Mountain View-South Addition district I have the privilege of representing. I’m inclined to see the single-member district rotate to another part of the municipality (it was originally an Eagle River-Chugiak-Birchwood seat) and if that happens then it will have significant effects on every district, whether some remain multi-member (my expectation) or not.
Long story short (I know, too late), even an election in which the Assembly is theoretically unaffected affects what happens next.
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