WILL DUNBAR BE SWAPPED IN AS ACTING MAYOR?
Anchorage Assembly Chair Felix Rivera has scheduled a special meting for the purpose of reorganizing the Anchorage Assembly. That meeting is Friday, Oct. 16, at 5 pm in the Assembly Chambers at the Loussac Library.
Mayor Ethan Berkowitz has resigned effective Oct. 23. If no change is made, Rivera will become acting mayor until a special election is held. Rivera might not be acceptable to the majority of the Assembly.
Anchorage Charter states that if a vacancy occurs, a special election shall be held not less than 90 days from the date of the vacancy, or if the vacancy occurs less than 90 days before an election, the vacancy is not filled.
Observers say that Forrest Dunbar will be put in as acting mayor in the meantime, which would give him an advantage as he runs for mayor during the regularly scheduled April 6 election. Presumably he would also run for acting mayor during the special election.
It doesn’t always work out well, however, to take over the sunset of a mayor’s second term, as Dunbar would be doing. It happen to Matt Claman in 2009, who had stepped into the shoes for Mayor Mark Begich, when he left office early to join the U.S. Senate. There were 15 in the race, which ended up in a runoff between Dan Sullivan (not the senator) and Eric Croft.
Sullivan had nearly 44 percent, but 45 percent was required to win outright. The next closest was Eric Croft, who came in at a distant 19.63 percent. Claman was far down the list at 5.71 percent.
Dunbar, if he became temporary mayor, would inherit the mantle of failed administration, with higher crime, homelessness, and taxes. He is famous for saying the Constitution is a racist document, and is considered the most leftwing of any of the announced candidates.
The term of the mayor ends on June 30, with the new mayor starting July 1. If Rivera or Dunbar become acting mayor, their seats would remain unfilled and the acting mayor cannot vote, but can only veto.
The runoff election has the same percentage provision as a regular election, meaning the victor needs to have 45 percent, and a runoff would bump up against the regular April 6 election.
Another twist to the story is that four Assembly members have recall petitions filed against them.
Rivera and Assembly member Meg Zalatel are the subjects of a recall by a group of midtown Anchorage residents, who are awaiting a decision from the City Attorney for whether or not their petition may move forward, while at the same time a lawsuit is pending over the City Attorney’s denial of a prior recall petition request.
In a separate case, Assembly members Austin Quinn-Davidson and Kameron Perez-Vervia are the subjects of a recall attempt by David Nees and Dustin Darden.
Anchorage elections are held by mail, and this means there could be as many as four mail-in elections in Anchorage between now and a possible runoff after the April 6 election, if no candidate gets at least 45 percent on the first round.
Announced candidates include Dunbar, Eric Croft, Bill Falsey, Bill Evans, Dave Bronson, and Mike Robbins.