Homer recall petition gains ground



A group of citizens in Homer, Alaska has had quite enough of three city council members who tried to make Homer a “sanctuary city ” — a place where illegal immigrants could find safe haven from the law.

The citizens want the three recalled. The reason? The city council members’ actions have harmed the economic health of Homer and constituted “improper behavior.”

As of this afternoon, the recall petition blew past 300 signatures in less than four days’ effort. That is 80 percent of the minimum total signatures that will be required.


In January, shortly after the swearing in of President Donald Trump, Homer City Council members Donna Aderhold, David Lewis, and Catriona Reynolds worked quietly on a resolution that rebuked Trump and declared Homer in resistance to everything about his administration, including his entire cabinet.

The draft resolution was a blistering “Whereas” document that contained the wordsmithing of former Homer News and Peninsula Clarion reporter Hal Spence.

Spence is the former president of the Alaska Press Club and, since early 2009, he has been on contract with a number of environmental organizations, such as Cook Inletkeeper, Alaska Marine Conservation Council, and World Wildlife Fund, according to his profile at the Hospice of Homer, where he serves on the board. He calls himself an independent environmental services professional on his LinkedIn social media profile.

Spence has written a letter to the editor taking credit for the original draft.


Later, the draft anti-Trump language was softened by Aderhold, Lewis, and Reynolds, and the resolution was introduced as a milder, “inclusivity” statement.

But the cat was out of the bag on the original intent of the resolution. It failed to pass after more than 100 citizens came to a hearing to testify on it. Many felt the entire exercise was divisive and disrespectful of the views of the 56 percent of Homer voters who cast a ballot for Trump.

Now, the recall petition is the talk of the town. The group has until April 11 to obtain 373 valid signatures needed for a vote.

Even if it fails, facing a recall election is a heavy price to pay for Aderhold, Lewis, and Reynolds. Lewis and Reynolds are facing reelection on Oct. 3, so regardless of whether they are removed early, this will be a campaign issue and they are likely to face stiff political headwinds.

Donna Aderhold, Catriona Reynolds, David Lewis, all city council members in Homer, Alaska, face recall after they collaborated on a santuary city resolution.

The last recall effort in Homer happened in August, 1965 to Mayor Ralph Cowles, who survived the vote. The petitioners said that Cowles, the city’s first mayor, was “discourteous and rude to Homer citizens who approach him on city matters.”

The recallers have established a storefront location to gather signatures from 11 am to 7 pm at 1104 Ocean Drive in Homer. Most of the people coming into the storefront just ask, “Where do I sign?”

But the group has also had to remove interlopers: A man started taking photographs of the process. A woman, who identified herself as a government employee, became argumentative with the petition sponsors, saying they were hurting the feelings of the three council members. She was asked to leave.

The petition sponsors have since set up better door security protocols.


Corbin Arno signs the recall petition in Homer, Alaska. (Photographer Barrett Moe)

The petitioners say the actions of the three council members constitute a dereliction of duty and “improper behavior.” Further, they say, the three council members have caused economic harm to the city. They cite cancellations of hotel rooms and fishing trips as evidence of that harm.

“[I]mproper behavior’ is a very subjective standard,” City Attorney Holly Wells said in a memo. Whether the city had declined the petition for recall or approved it, it would likely have been subject to legal challenge.

The city clerk is the decider, however. Once the signatures are turned in, Clerk Jo Johnson will judge the merits of the allegations and either refuse the petitioners or call a special election.

Because they are under the shadow of a recall election, the three council members have been advised by the city attorney to not speak of the matter either publicly or in discussions.

Grounds for recall include misconduct in office, incompetence, or failure to perform prescribed duties. Alaska laws governing municipal recall processes are summarized at Ballotopedia.

Previous stories:

Homer city council goes into full ‘resist Trump’ mode with resolution

Homer city council to consider ‘softened’ resolution after blowback

Homer City Council backs away from ‘resist’ resolution


  1. This recall petition is ridiculous and makes me very disappointed in some of my fellow Homerites. Who will serve on our city council if every time a resolution or ordinance is introduced that you don’t like, a recall process starts. And why with the elections less than 6 months away? Why not just vote against them then. Is it that you have some great need to “show them” or “win”. Think about that. This is a small town. The signatures will be public. These are hard working council people who give up every Monday night until all hours trying to make the city better. NO anti-Trump resolution or “sanctuary city” resolution was introduced. Don’t just believe other people read the resolution for yourself. It is on the city’s website. You still might not think it is necessary but I can’t believe if you actually read it you would think it is something worth hating on 3 good council people over. Stop it!

    • I think you are missing the point…. By design. What is ridiculous is what these council members were up to, while the rest of us are working day and night. Go to the city clerk’s office, put in a request for the 3 council members e-mails, then go home and read all their electronic communications like many of us have taken the time to do. Then come back and explain to the decent hard-working, law-abiding citizens of Homer why this level of deception is acceptable, but I already know you won’t. You have no clue the level of anger they have brought to our once peaceful town. None of us wanted any of this, but speaking for myself this is my way of withdrawing my consent to be governed by theses individuals. I have talked with hundreds of people the last few weeks and I am hearing the same thing. It’s time for them to go.

      • What I find interesting is that when Obama was President, conservatives did nothing but resist. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, I guess you snowflakes want your “safe spaces”.
        Also, you’re saying that these council members who were in communication with each other and their constituents and taking their constituents interests seriously aren’t decent hard-working, law abiding citizens?
        Also, this resolution was the citizens’ way of withdrawing their consent of being governed by President P Grabber.
        I just find you hilarious!

      • But Larry I really don’t get why you are so angry. If you get angry over every elected official who thinks differently than you, you will have a heart attack! Emails, communications, who they voted for in the last national election, what they thought of your candidate or sanctuary cities is all pretty irrelevant. What matters is what they actually do and what they actually did was introduce a pretty innocuous resolution that then 2 out of 3 of them voted against. I myself am no fan of resolutions – I called them foot stompers in the state house. They have no force of law and take a lot of time without accomplishing anything. So getting all excited about a resolution doesn’t seem very productive. Just like resolutions aren’t very productive. Everybody needs to take a deep breath and think about what is and what is not worth stirring up.

  2. What a shame. Having read the e-mails etc. It becomes very obvious what the accused were up to. Sure doesn’t make Homer look very good on the national stage. Larry Zuccaro hits the nail on the head. To use public office for political/personal agendas is reprehensible. If oath of office, or laws were broken, then accountability must be demanded by the citizens of Homer.

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