DID SHE QUALIFY AS A CANDIDATE FOR CITY COUNCIL?
The Homer City Council voted unanimously to start an investigation into the residency qualifications of one of the apparent winners of the Oct. 1 municipal election.
But before the investigation starts, the council decided to seat the candidate in question. And so Storm Hansen-Cavasos took the oath of office around 9:30 pm during the Monday council meeting and became a bonafide council member, but with a question mark in the eye of some community members.
But not before a whole lot of community discussion. The meeting attracted dozens of residents from both within the city limits and without, who advocated for either following one city law or another — laws that could be interpreted as contradicting each other when it comes to Hansen-Cavasos’ situation.
One section of city code says that a candidate for council must have been a resident of the city for the previous year. Another section of code says the council must certify the election and swear in candidates at the next council meeting after the canvass board certifies it.
That’s the conundrum the council faces regarding Storm Hansen-Cavasos, who won a seat on the council but who may not have met the qualifications to even be on the ballot.
Although she is a lifelong Homer resident, she lived out East End Road last fall, and one of the neighbors in that neighborhood told the council that, without question, Hansen-Cavasos had been living outside city limits until some time in summer of 2019.
Another Homer resident said the city code only states the candidate needs to have lived in Homer for one year prior to the election, but the code doesn’t state “which year,” and since Hansen-Cavasos was raised in the community, she therefore should be considered a Homer resident.
Cassie Lawver was the person who first discovered that Hansen-Cavasos had only recently moved back into the Homer political district. Lawver told the council that she had gathered up statements from numerous people who had first-hand knowledge of Hansen-Cavasos’ actual residency.
But another Homer resident said that a person’s intention is important, and Hansen-Cavasos intended to move into town.
The City Council’s newly contracted attorney Michael Gatti provided some guidance to the council, reminding them that once an investigation is started, none of them may speak to members of the public about the investigation outside of official proceedings, as it would be a quasi-judicial matter that affords everyone due process.
Gatti also told the council that they could, if they wished, only swear in Joey Eversen, who won a seat on the council, and they could bifurcate the other position from their certification of the election until the results of the investigation. Either way, he said, the council is on the “hot seat” and its decision could draw a ‘judicial action.”
Storm Hansen-Cavasos, after being sworn in, took her seat in the audience for the remainder of the meeting, which will be that last one that Council member Tom Stroozas attends as a city official. She’ll replace him, even while the investigation is underway.
Joey Evensen, a geologist raised in the Homer area, was also sworn in as a council member.