ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Environmentalists and hunting advocates fought
Tuesday night for control of the Anchorage Fish and Game Advisory
It's one of the most influential in the state and offers advice to
the Board of Fisheries on local issues, but the vote could polarize
The last time the public turned out in numbers like this is was last
summer during the debate on the gay rights ordinance.
A lot of the same players showed up Tuesday, but this time around
it's about politicking and gerrymandering to turn an election.
One long line can speak volumes, and this one was twisted and packed
with people shouting words like "democracy" and "representation."
Conservationists claim pro-gun groups are coming in from the Valley
to influence the Anchorage Fish and Board Advisory Committee election.
"At first I thought how can that be and then I talked to a number of
other people that have been involved with it and they said that's
exactly what happened last time; a bunch of people from the Valley
came in and tried to load their people onto the committee," said
conservationist Rick Steiner.
The Anchorage Second Amendment Task Force says that's a loaded
argument, and says environmental groups are trying to limit who can
"We are not loading anything from Wasilla. We sent out a message to
all of our members and our members are all over the state. I don't
think you're going to find too many people driving too far for this
vote," said George Hines, a member of the Task Force.
But other organizations like the Conservative Patriots group tried to
influence the election by handing out literature calling on gun
rights activists to sway the results.
The district lines between the Mat-Su and Anchorage Fish and Game
region overlap, meaning some people are voting in both elections.
"It would be like someone in Government Hill being able to vote for
the legislator from South Anchorage, or vice versa. It just doesn't
work that way. It's not representational democracy," Steiner said.
It comes down to ideology. Pro-gun groups want a local committee
favorable to hunting issues while green groups want a committee
focused on conservation.
Steiner asked the state board to postpone the election until it fixes
the issue of residency verification, but the state says it's not
"As a practical matter there's never been a pattern where folks from
Fairbanks or folks from Southeast Alaska are driving or flying to
Anchorage to participate in the Advisory Committee elections," said
Jim Marcotte, Executive Director of the Alaska Board of Fisheries.
As a compromise, the state agreed to verify whether voters lived in
Southcentral Alaska, but it wouldn't keep Valley voters from casting
an Anchorage ballot.
"They've always got to lock on to something that's going to anger
somebody because emotions drive this stuff," Hines said.
While the line took longer than the debate, most voters filled out
their ballots before it even started.
Voting results were unavailable.
Check back to KTUU.com and watch for a follow-up Wednesday on the
5:00 Report and the News Hour.
Contact Ashton Goodell at firstname.lastname@example.org