Introducing America's Largest State Legislative District
A debate over expanding the Alaska legislature has brought to my attention the state's incredible Senate District C, America's largest state legislative district. ...
A debate over expanding the Alaska legislature has brought to my attention the state's incredible Senate District C, America's largest state legislative district.
Rural legislators are pushing to add four seats to the Alaska Senate and eight seats to the Alaska House as a way to prevent their seats from becoming even more unwieldy. Anchorage and the nearby Matanuska-Susitna Borough (Sarah Palin's old stomping ground) have gained population. The Bush -- the parts of the state that lack interconnected roads -- has seen its population declines accelerate, driven by high heating costs.
As a result, after redistricting more of the state's districts will be in the urban (or comparatively urban) areas. The rural seats that remain will have to get larger.
The case that rural legislators are making is that the state's rural seats already are too large and too difficult to traverse. If the legislature had more seats, they'd at least be able to keep the rural districts roughly the size that they are now. To make that case, lawmakers have turned to the obvious example: District C.
District C stretches to the end of the Alaska Panhandle in the Southeast (see the part marked 5-C on this map). It reaches far North beyond Fairbanks into the Arctic Circle, to the edge of the North Slope. And, it stretches West nearly all the way to the Bering Sea (see 6-C on this map).
The distance from Metlakatla in District C's farthest edge in the Southeast to Marshall, the farthest edge to the West, is 1,185 miles. That's almost the same distance as Jacksonville, Florida to Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The distance from Metlakatla to aptly named Arctic Village in the district's Northern extreme is 1,000 miles. Portland, Oregon to Phoenix, Arizona is almost the same distance.
Of course, traveling to the far-flung villages of District C isn't as simple as hopping on a commercial jet or getting in a car. The senator who represents District C, Democrat Albert Kookesh, explained his district to his colleagues, as the Anchorage Daily News reports:
"In order for me to get to one of my villages, Lime Village, I would have to go from Angoon to Juneau, Juneau to Anchorage, Anchorage to Fairbanks, Fairbanks to Aniak, and Aniak to Lime Village," Kookesh said.
Join the Discussion
After you comment, click Post. You can enter an anonymous Display Name or connect to a social profile.
Most States Have No Laws About Guns in Polling Places2 days ago
Write-In Votes Aren't Allowed for President in 9 States2 days ago
To Curb Unintended Pregnancy, States Turn to IUDs -- in the Delivery Room2 days ago
Planned Parenthood Wins Battle to Block Mississippi Law2 days ago
Children, Rejoice! Chocolate Milk May Return to Menus in America's Largest School District2 days ago
County Executive's Arrest Could Disturb Region's GOP Machine for Years to Come2 days ago