If approved, the new redistricting maps would mean a change in representation for the Kenai Peninsula. The latest boundaries shift Senator Peter Micciche’s District O toward central and eastern peninsula communities. He currently serves the central and southern areas, including Homer.
The southern peninsula and across-the-bay communities would then be combined with Kodiak, which is currently served by Senator Gary Stevens. The reconfiguration is similar to how the districts looked before the 2012 elections.
Senator Micciche said he was disappointed when he heard about the new boundary lines. He said serving the district has been important to him because it isn’t what he calls a “unified demographic.” Though Micciche has certainly experienced times when the diversity of the area proved to be a challenge.
Some voters on the southern peninsula took issue with his vote on the controversial oil tax reform measure earlier this year. And during a town hall meeting in March held in Homer, the conversation was heated. But he stayed until the end discussing the issues constituents brought up. And Micciche said that’s something he’s proud of. He said he has heard from southern peninsula voters that they’ve seen him more than Senator Tom Wagoner, who served the district for a decade.
The new boundary lines for Senate District O would include Kenai, Soldotna, Nikiski, Cooper Landing and Seward just to name a few.
“It really becomes a central peninsula-centric district. I can see why that district makes sense, yet personally I will miss the influence from the southern peninsula on the way that I make decisions. This district, I believe, politically shifts more to the right, and I’m a very conservative guy. I’m comfortable with that,” he said.
If the maps are approved and he wins another term, Micciche would work with House Speaker Mike Chenault and Representative Kurt Olson rather than Representative Paul Seaton. Micciche said he and Seaton have developed a good working relationship.
Senator Gary Stevens currently represents District R, which has been re-named District P in the new maps. He said he plans to run next year to have another chance to represent the southern peninsula.
“I think of it as back to the future. It’s going back to a district I represented earlier, for the most part, not entirely. And I couldn’t be happier,” he said.
In the 2012 race, Stevens was elected to represent Kodiak and other communities like Dillingham and Bethel. He said it was frustrating to lose parts of his previous district.
“You make friendships and you learn what people need, and it just changes. And that’s just the nature of the beast, I guess. There’s nothing we can do about it. We have to react rather than be proactive on it,” he said.
Stevens and Micciche will serve out the remainder of their terms. The Alaska Redistricting Board sent the finalized maps to the Alaska Supreme Court July 18.