The 24th Alaska State Legislature Representative Peggy Wilson visited Petersburg last week to discuss any issues residents may have.
“This visit to Petersburg has been wonderful and sad at the same time,” Wilson said. “I feel that Petersburg is mine because I have had it for 12 years, and I am going to miss being a part of this community when the redistricting takes effect.”
Southeast Alaska had five legislators in the past but the area has lost 17,000 people between the last two censuses. The state overall has gained population and the House has 40 legislators and they divide the population between the 40. Before the redistricting the Southeast legislators represented about 14,000 people, but now, there are only four representatives in the area and they will represent 17,500 people.
“Our districts have gotten bigger,” Wilson explained. “Now, coming up from the south, my district will stop at Wrangell.”
Wilson resides on Wrangell and her district will now encompass Ketchikan, all but the native communities of Prince of Wales Island, Saxman, Hyder and, of course, Wrangell.
“During my tenure as a representative in this area, I have come to realize that no matter the differences in the people, they all seem to have the same problems,” Wilson stated.
The major issues brought to her attention on this visit include the ferry system, fishing and the Petersburg-Kake road.
“The road route has not been chosen at this time,” Wilson said. “The main concern with this project is the community of Kupreanof wanting to remain roadless and isolated.”
This particular project has been in the works for approximately 10 years and Wilson explains that there is no definitive time frame for completion.
“They are still doing the environmental impact statements and the project may never be finished,” Wilson said. “But the issues here in Petersburg run the gamut of diversity.”
Wilson explained that, even though she will not be representing Petersburg any longer, she can still make sure she watches out for this community and its people.
“I can’t just shut off my feelings for Petersburg,” Wilson stated. “I feel a real kinship for this community and the residents here and I will stick up for them, if I can.”
She also explained that she still has the remainder of her term to do what she can for this community.
Wilson stated that no matter the issues and concerns, she always enjoys her trips to Petersburg.
“I have truly loved the fellowship with the people that have come in to talk, as well as those who have stopped me on the street,” she stated. “I will miss the people of Petersburg so much and will forever consider them special.”