Anchorage Assembly majority leaders Suzanne LaFrance and Chris Constant issued statements on Monday opposing a draft ordinance that would have the people of Anchorage elect the Municipal Clerk, rather than having her appointed by the Assembly.
At the Regular Assembly Meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 23, the Assembly will take up AO 2022-13, an ordinance put forward by Mayor Dave Bronson that would ask voters if they want to amend the Anchorage Charter. With the statements issued by the two leftist leaders of the Assembly, it’s clear that the ordinance will fail.
At least some members of the public would like to take away the power the the Assembly over the Clerk, especially after numerous instances of election irregularities, refusal to release petitions that have been requested, and stonewalling members of the public who make public records requests.
The Municipal Clerk is responsible for a broad range of municipal functions, including clerking Assembly meetings, overseeing municipal business, running municipal elections, administering certain business, liquor, and marijuana licensing, coordinating and staffing the Boards of Adjustment and Ethics, and maintaining Assembly records.
Assembly Chair Suzanne LaFrance said that if a clerk was elected who had no professional credentials for the position, the clerk could end up being a partisan politician “who is beholden to political leaders and campaign donors to retain their position.”
Currently, the clerk is beholden to political leaders on the Assembly.
“The proposed ordinance is a solution in search of a problem,” said Assembly Vice Chair Constant. “The Clerk’s Office runs efficiently with high ethical standards in service to the public and this proposal could damage that high level of service and proficiency. Given the current events around the mayor’s staffing and human resource practices, he’s not in a good position to make recommendations for how other branches of government should be organized, so we look forward to putting this idea to rest permanently.”
Constant is the politician who delivered an expensive bouquet of flowers to Clerk Barbara Jones during the middle of the counting of ballots last year, while he was working feverishly on the mayoral campaign of Forrest Dunbar. Clerk Jones owes her job to people who can remove her if she does not comply with their instructions or bend to their political pressure.
The ordinance offered by Bronson asks the public if they want the position to be elected by the people. It is not a vote on whether Jones should be the clerk.
Last year, the voters in Carlsbad, Calif. were asked whether or not they wanted their city clerk to continue to be elected or to be appointed. The citizens, allowed to vote on the matter, chose to continue with an elected clerk.
The Anchorage ordinance, which proposes a change to Anchorage Charter, requires a two-thirds affirmative vote by the Assembly. If passed, the change would be presented to qualified Anchorage voters as a ballot proposition in an upcoming election.
Assembly leadership, which has managed the Municipal Clerk in such a way as to sow distrust in the public, submitted an Assembly Memorandum with their position on the item: ancgov.info/AM455-2022.
The Assembly meeting starts at 5 pm on the ground floor of the Loussac Library. The meetings are also live on YouTube, although the video feed is often muted during times when the Assembly chair doesn’t want the public to view what is happening in the chamber.
More information about the meeting is at this link.