The Anchorage Assembly is setting up the framework to temporarily replace Assembly members Forrest Dunbar of East Anchorage and Jamie Allard of Eagle River, and will consider a resolution on Dec. 20 to get the ball rolling.
Allard was elected to the Alaska House of Representatives and will be sworn in on Jan. 17, 2023, when she heads to Juneau to begin her term in office. Dunbar was elected to the Senate.
Allard has announced she will continue to serve on the Assembly until sworn in as a legislator on Jan. 17, while Dunbar has announced that Jan. 4 will be his last day.
Because members of the Assembly may not also serve as legislators, the seats would be vacant from that day until the April 4, 2023 municipal election; the resolution allows the remaining members of the Assembly to appoint people to those seats.
The Municipal Clerk would advertise the Eagle River District C, Seat 2 position on Jan. 10, 2023, and accept applicants for the appointment to the position no later than 5 pm on Tuesday, Jan. 17.
The applications may be submitted by hand-delivery or e-mail, but not by U.S. Postal Service or fax, according to the resolution. The clerk would then determine the residency and other eligibility requirements for the applicants, and the Assembly would interview them during a special public meeting on Jan. 29 at 2-4 pm, and then vote by secret ballot on the applicants that day.
Dunbar’s replacement process happens sooner. The clerk would advertise the District 5, Seat H position on Dec. 28, and accept applications until 5 pm on Jan. 4. After the review process to determine eligibility, the Assembly would interview the applicants on Jan. 6 between 9-11 am, and vote for the person to be appointed directly following the interviews, starting around noon.
The chosen interim Assembly members would then fill out the remainder of Allard’s and Dunbar’s terms and would be the incumbents going into the April 4 election.
In the past, the left-leaning Assembly has chosen a Democrat to fill an empty seat in the conservative Eagle River area. When Assemblywoman Amy Demboski was appointed to a position in the Dunleavy administration in 2018, the Assembly appointed Gretchen Wehmhoff to replace her until the next election. During that replacement vote, former Assemblyman Bill Starr, a conservative, only received two votes from the Assembly, even though he had served on the Assembly for over nine years, while Wehmhoff received six votes. Wehmhoff had run as a Democrat in past partisan elections and was not aligned with the conservative community of Chugiak-Eagle River; she did not win in her attempt to hold onto the seat she to which she was appointed.