Andrew Gray, the cofounder of a rage-driven political group called Anchorage Action, made a demand to Mayor Dave Bronson on Tuesday night during the Anchorage Assembly meeting. He presented a petition with over 1,200 names on it from people who he said want to see Judy Eledge fired as the deputy librarian. Some who have signed the petition are library workers, others are patrons. Some appear to be from out of state.
Gray said, without presenting proof, that Eledge had removed books with gay themes from the library stacks. He said she reminds him of his mother, and his mother should not be in charge of a library.
Assemblywoman Jamie Allard attempted to stop the attack on Eledge’s character or the impugning of her, but Assembly Chairwoman Suzanne LaFrance allowed the attack to continue for the man’s full three minutes.
Eledge is deputy librarian, a position she was appointed by the mayor after she withdrew her name from consideration to be the head librarian for Anchorage.
Later in the meeting, Mayor Bronson spoke and said that the personal attack on an employee of the city was inappropriate.
“She is an employee of mine and you said that was allowed because of free speech,” Bronson said, speaking to Chairwoman LaFrance. “If that is a change in the rules of decorum here tonight going forward … you let that go for nearly two minutes. Finally, Jamie Allard had to step in and interrupt that process … And just I need you to know here that Judy’s been doing an exceptional job for eight months under very trying conditions. She’s a 75-year-old woman and she has got a lot of employees who actively work against her. We don’t know if that’s even legal what they are doing. I appreciate Judy’s service more than you can imagine … She is a dedicated employee, she is doing a great job and she continues to have my undying and unquestioned support. So to the request made to the petition, based on the way it was delivered by Mr. Gray, I won’t even dignify that by even reading it, my staff will. And just so you know, when she received that treatment you need to understand the perspective I have…If someone stood up at the podium and attacked your clerk that way would you allow it continue? And we know over the last two years you wouldn’t have.”
Bronson asked for public apology from Assembly Chair LaFrance, but she rebuffed his request.
Assemblyman Chris Constant then lectured the mayor and said he should have made a motion to overrule the ruling of the chair at the time the offense took place. LaFrance then prevented the mayor from speaking further on the topic.