Senator Hoffman calls new district a ‘challenge’

by Mark Arehart on January 14, 2013

Senator Lyman Hoffman, from Bethel, is entering his 27th year in the Alaska Legislature. The Senate looks vastly different this session because of redistricting, new senators and a Republican majority.

The 28th Alaska Legislature starts tomorrow.

This Senate boasts four brand-new senators, as well as a Republican majority. Gone is the even split between the parties, along with the Senate Bipartisan Coalition.

On that coalition was Democrat Lyman Hoffman, who has seen quite a change in his own district.

Through redistricting, District S now stretches from the Aleutian Islands to the doorsteps of Fairbanks, a region longer than the distance between Seattle and Boston.

That leaves many communities Hoffman had previously represented lumped into different districts.

“It’s very, very frustrating that the communities around Bethel, I don’t represent anymore,” Hoffman said. “I don’t represent going upriver to Akiak, Akiachak, Tulusak… all the way up to Kalskag.”

Hoffman said representing so many new and diverse, not to mention far spread, communities will be a major challenge.

“How can somebody from Bethel represent Fairbanks, McKinley Park, all the way down to McGrath,” Hoffman said. “I go out to Mekoryuk. I go out to Sand Point. I go out to Unalaska.”

Hoffman said there aer some familiar Lower Yukon villages in his new constituency. He represented many of them in his first turn in the Senate back in 1990.

“I’m going to represent Kotlik, Emmonak, Alakanuk, Nunam Iqua, Scammon Bay, Hooper Bay, Chevak, Pilot Station, Marshall.”

Hoffman said that with so many rookie senators this session, the veterans should focus on statewide topics.

“The biggest problem that I see that continues to haunt me is “What do we do about the high cost of living, the high cost of energy?”"

The legislative session starts tomorrow and runs through April 14.

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