Kodiak Daily Mirror - Census data aids in state House redistricting
  
Census data aids in state House redistricting
by WES HANNA
Mar 17, 2011 | 103 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The U.S. Census Bureau released detailed population numbers for Alaska Wednesday that will aid in redistricting state House seats. The numbers also show the racial background of the population around the state.

Kodiak resident Bob Brodie was selected by Kodiak Sen. Gary Stevens, in his capacity as Senate president, to be one of five people on the Alaska Redistricting Board. Brodie was in Anchorage Wednesday as part of a public board meeting held just after the population numbers were released.

Brodie said the redistricting board will travel to communities around the state while putting together draft redistricting plans. Members will visit six or seven communities before the draft plan is due in 30 days. Then they will undertake a flurry of travel — to perhaps 28 communities — before the final plan is mandated to be complete in 90 days.

Alaska is one of just a few states requiring the U.S. Justice Department to sign off on a redistricting plan, Brodie said.

Specifically for Kodiak, Brodie said population didn’t decline as much as projected. Still, the House of Representatives district that includes Kodiak Island will need to include thousands more people to reach the population requirement of 17,755 for each district.

Brodie said possibilities for the Kodiak House district would be to look east to Seldovia, north to Bristol Bay or west to Dutch Harbor to pick up the population to fill out the district.

Population numbers

Overall the state gained about 83,300 residents for a total population of 710,231 Alaskans since the 2000 census.

Kodiak Island Borough and the city of Kodiak each lost population in a pattern of decline common to other rural areas of the state.

According to census numbers, Kodiak city lost 204 people, or 3.2 percent of its population from 10 years ago, for a total of 6,130 residents. The borough lost 321 people in the decade for a total of 13,592 residents, or a 2.3 percent decline.

The population decline also happened in Kodiak Island’s villages.

The U.S. Census Bureau has not released its official population count of the village communities, but a recent draft of a transportation feasibility study prepared for Kodiak Island Borough found that Larsen Bay had lost 42 percent of the population it had in 2000. Akhiok’s population is down 40 percent, Port Lions is down 26 percent, Ouzinkie is down 25 percent and Old Harbor is down 22 percent in just the past decade.

As the population declines, the racial demographic here is also changing.

Borough-wide, the largest population growth comes from those who identify themselves as Asian in origin, which includes Filipinos, with an increase of 428. Also increasing in population are those who identify as Hispanic or Latino, with 148 people. Those who identify with two or more races increased by 319 people.

Meanwhile those who identify as white decreased by 782 people and those identifying as American Indian or Alaska Native decreased by 231.

In Kodiak city, after a loss of 315 people identifying as white, the white and Asian populations are now nearly equal. Whites make up 40.3 percent of the total, and Asians make up 37.4 percent.

Mirror writer Wes Hanna can be reached via e-mail at whanna@kodiakdailymirror.com.
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