Homer group gets court date for challenge of council member's residency - Must Read Alaska
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Saturday, December 7, 2019
HomePoliticsHomer group gets court date for challenge of council member’s residency

Homer group gets court date for challenge of council member’s residency

Photo of Storm Hansen-Cavasos

Did the Homer City Council do right by the citizens of the Cosmic Hamlet when it seated Storm Hansen-Cavasos as a voting city council member?

A judge will weigh the matter. Dec. 3 is the first court appearance for a group of Alaskans who believe that Hansen-Cavasos didn’t meet the requirements to be a candidate, much less a council member, because she lived in the Kenai Peninsula Borough, not in the city.

Cavasos filed for office on Aug. 9 for the October local election, but it wasn’t until after she was elected that some people in the area began questioning whether she met the residency requirements when she filed for office. People knew she lived on Rolling Meadows Road, about six miles out East End Road beyond the city limits.

One of those people questioning the candidate was the incumbent who lost to Hansen-Cavasos — Tom Stroozas, who took fourth in an election for two seats on the council.

Some say it’s sour grapes. But Stroozas has said he knows he’s out of the running, yet he still believes rules are rules — and that there’s ample proof Cavasos didn’t live in the city limits for the year leading up to the election. Stroozas believes the person who received the second most votes should be seated instead. That person was Shelly Erickson.

The Stroozas group has raised over $12,000 and hired an Anchorage law firm, which last week requested an expedited hearing with an Anchorage Superior Court judge, and an emergency injunction to prevent Hansen-Cavasos from serving until the matter is resolved.

The Homer City Code is clear that candidates must live in the city for the year prior to the election date. When Cavasos filed for office on Aug. 9, she listed an in-town address. But she had had a lease on a home outside the city limits that had gone through March of 2019, and then she extended it on a month-to-month basis, while she was evidently making a transition to a new residence in town. Because she is a life-long residence of the area, she is known as a local, but in fact, may have been living at her Rolling Meadows Road location, six miles outside of the city limits in 2018 and through much of 2019.

East End Road “feels like” Homer, but isn’t. You’re back in the borough once you cross McClay Road.

Rolling Meadows Road is another six miles past McClay Road. Critics say that distance would be the same as a candidate living in the Old Sterling region of the Sterling Highway, going the other direction. Or it would be as if someone living on Trunk Road in the Mat-Su Borough served on the Palmer City Council.

[Read: Homer City Council votes to investigate Cavasos]

The Homer City Council looked into the matter, had an investigation conducted on its behalf, gave Hansen-Cavasos a pass because she’s a well-known life-long resident of the area, and swore her in.

“This case involves constitutional rights of the highest order—the right to vote, and to have one’s vote counted. It also involves the companion right, equally important, to have representation in government by a person of one’s choice. Revolutions have been fought over such rights,” wrote the lawyers for Stroozas.

“Stroozas and other residents of the City are entitled to elect an eligible candidate of their choosing. Stroozas is therefore entitled to an order directing the Homer City Clerk to swear in the next eligible candidate with the highest percentage of the votes. The City must obey the law which it failed to do when it seated ineligible candidate, Hansen-Cavasos on the City Council,” the attorneys wrote.

The group believes the scenario could come up again and again in Alaska, thus feels their cause is precedent-setting. They’re asking for financial help to pursue the question of “what constitutes a city resident” in Anchorage Superior Court. Checks may be directed to Reeves-Amodio LLC, ‪500 L Street, Suite 300,‬ ‪Anchorage, AK 99501‬, with Attn: Stroozas Defense Fund in the check memo line. The Stroozas Defense Fund needs to raise another $11,000.

What the judge — or likely the Alaska Supreme Court — decides will be considered case law and will be referred to in future cases that could come up in Anchorage, the Mat-Su Valley, and the Fairbanks area, where municipalities and boroughs are side by side.

On Monday, the Homer City Council will meet in executive session to discuss how the city will pay for the defense of its decision to seat Hansen-Cavasos.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Can Storm Hansen-Cavasos run for election for a borough seat that is close to the Kenai Peninsula Borough?
    .
    Can Storm Hansen-Cavasos run for election for a state house seat that is in a district close to hers?
    .
    Can Storm Hansen-Cavasos run for election for a state senate seat that is in a district close to hers?
    .
    Can Storm Hansen-Cavasos run for election for a US House of Representatives seat that is in a state close to hers?
    .
    Can Storm Hansen-Cavasos run for election for a US Senate seat that is in a state close to hers?
    .
    Can Storm Hansen-Cavasos run for election for a Canadian seat because it is in a country close to hers?

    • I don’t know there Four-Flusher but it perhaps hinges on whether/not she is a life-long resident of the area. Heheh!

      • No, it actually doesn’t. Heh heh.

        • Says someone who goes by “goober?”

          • That’s Mr McGee to you. And you know that rules are rules. You can’t tell a police officer who stops you for speeding that you “intended” to go the speed limit and expect to not be ticketed. Storm got caught in a lie, and you know damn well she did not and does not qualify for the city council seat because her residency disqualified her.

          • Well Goober, you seem to know it but I sure don’t. And that’s why it may go to court to determine whether/not she qualifies. For their own reasons, the City Council has determined she is qualified-you say she isn’t. Should it get to court, you’ll want to give them your expert opinion on police officers and speeding tickets. Heheh!

          • You don’t know it? Sad to be as ignorant of rule of law as you seem to be. You probably shouldn’t be voting in future elections if you haven’t got any more discernment than what you have. Heh heh.

          • Well there Goob, I’ll wait for the decision on this rule of law, namely because I don’t know the facts. You probably don’t either but have made your decision anyway-that is ignorant IMO.

          • When the judge looks at the facts that have been provided, said judge is compelled to rule that she is not qualified by reason of legitimate residency. Hide and watch.

          • Goob, the facts haven’t been determined yet. I suspect the judge will look at “the arguments,” as provided in the briefs and he/she will then determine which are “facts.”
            You are predetermining this outcome, perhaps from your crystal ball-rest of us will wait for the decision.

          • If the judge is fair and impartial, and not a touchy-feely type, there’s only one way to rule on the evidence. But you go ahead and mock, Yanker, because it sure seems like it makes you feel better to snipe.

          • Well Goob, it’s looking like you are already preparing for the worst in this decision. I see you’ve listed the reasons why it may not go as you think.
            When you are way out there, like you are with your crystal ball, it’s always best to prepare for the worst. Heheh!

      • I would like to see any official criteria that list “life-long resident of the area” as the resident requirement.

        • I believe it comes down to “it’s who you know,” before any locally elected committee. Heheh.
          That becomes less important in a courtroom IMO.

  • I don’t understand why somebody would want to put the city council through this and make them spend money just because he can’t stand the fact that he lost! You’re doing nothing but hurting the community at this point. They made their decision. Can you please just accept this fact and move on!

    • You’re absolutely correct, Storm Hansen-Cavasos should have never run in this election. If she wanted to hold elected office in the City of Homer she should have been in compliance with the requirements and been a resident of the City of Homer.

    • The City Council has only themselves to blame for this. They did not follow City By-Laws concerning local elections. Being a ” lifelong resident of the area” doesn’t cut it. She wasn’t a resident of the City of Homer for the required amount of time. Quit trying to obfuscate the obvious! Does being a “lifelong resident” of the State of Alaska give one the right to sit on the Anchorage Assembly? Stop being so dense.

      • Say there John, are you saying your interpretation means this doesn’t need a courtroom? We should just use your opinion here??
        Might save some money, right-someone named “JOHN” (on MRAK) says she wasn’t a resident. End of story. Heheh!
        By the way, your example was what was dense-being a lifelong resident of Anchorage just might give one the right to “run” in an Anchorage Assembly election.

        • Yankee – the stupid runs deep. I stated that being a lifelong resident of Alaska – NOT Anchorage – wouldn’t give you the right to sit on the Anchorage Assembly.

          • I’ll admit the stupid is strong today, John. Your statement made no sense at all-I attempted to make some sense of it but you doubled down on the absurdity. And your bit about right to sit left off anything about being elected. Go ahead and try to fix your absurd statement again. Heheh!

        • JOHN, like you, simply stated an opinion. The By-Laws, the Charter, should matter to you, as it should to all Homer residents. If she doesn’t qualify, she shouldn’t have run. And she should have done her due diligence to ensure she was qualified. All this has changed the dynamics of the vote, conservative & liberal.

          • The crux here is your “if she doesn’t qualify” IMO. No dynamics of the vote have changed-there has merely been a challenge to her residency qualification. It has passed one test and may get a court hearing but so what? These things take place all the time-it will work itself out (also IMO).

    • Maybe because some of us still believe in the Rule of Law. So Storm either knew she was running illegally or she is plain old dumb and didn’t understand the requirements. Either of those choices means I don’t want her making any decisions for me. She needs to do the right thing and step down.

      • You’ve made the court decision here, I see. Should we run all these Rule of Law issues through you first to save on court time?

    • The Homer City Code itself provides the right to have a court review the decision to certify the election results despite the contest to Hansen-Cavasos’ eligibility. So, you are right that they made their decision, but incorrect in believing that their decision puts an end to it.

      In terms of the City Council’s decision, we are not talking about forgetting to change the address on your driver’s license here. It hasn’t been reported in the Homer News (like it has on this site), but Hansen-Cavasos registered to vote 6 months prior to the election at her address outside the city limits. The voter registration form clearly states that the address provided by the voter is the address where they are claiming residency. It then contains a provision at the bottom of the form right above the signature where the voter affirms, under penalty of perjury, that all information provided is accurate. Then it states that providing false information could result in a misdemeanor charge. I don’t know about you, but that is kind of a big deal.

      It really suggest four possible conclusions: (1) Hansen-Cavasos lied her residency on her candidate certification filed with the City Clerk; (2) She lied on her voter registration filed in April 2019; (3) She is so careless that she unwittingly makes statements under oath that are false (including on her PFD); or (4) She is so incompetent that she can’t figure out how to correctly complete a voter registration form.

      I’m sorry, but none of these four possibilities should give you warm fuzzies about Hansen-Cavasos serving on the City Council. On top of that, it would be really good to know exactly what type of individual was elected to the City Council.

      • ^^^ this

  • I have to wonder how much tax payer money the City of Homer will spend defending an illegal decision to seat Ms. Hansen-Cavasos. Since Ms. Hansen-Cavasos is a voting member of the city council, she will get to vote to spend money on this issue. Conflict of interest?

  • Does anyone know what time the hearing on Monday is scheduled for? Some of us would like to attend.,

  • Why are commentators criticizing the candidate? The problem is the City Council and City Clerk “gave her a pass.” We have come to a bad place when we need our Supreme Court to “create case law” merely because some in authority are unwilling to conform to plainly written law. Those rogues should be held to pay the plaintiff’s entire legal costs.

    • Wayne, it seem to me that you are attributing this author’s “gave her a pass,” as if it came from the Supreme Court?

    • You are astute. They did give her a pass, a wink and a nod. She should be ashamed for filing to run when she was not a qualified resident. The council should also be ashamed for not following what the guidelines clearly specify for residency. They are ALL rogues and should be required to pay legal fees and hand in their resignations.

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