The City of Palmer is holding a special election on April 19 to determine if three members — known by some as the “Keyboard Cabal” — of the Palmer City Council should be recalled. The three are progressives who campaigned on their liberal credentials: Sabrena Combs, Brian Daniels, and Jill Valerius.
The three are accused of holding secret discussion groups in violation of the Alaska Open Meetings Act. They were meeting online in a closed Facebook group for several months. Anyone in the group who disagreed with them in the group was removed and anyone who questioned the legality of the discussions was also removed.
The front and back of the ballot is in this image:
Whenever there is a majority of a body gathering to discuss business that can be heard before the public body, it must be noticed, the public must have right to be there, and there must be a recording of the meeting, as well as an opportunity for the public to speak to speak. That is the foundation of the Alaska Open Meetings Act.
The fourth council member who engaged in the secret discussions was former council member Julie Berberich, who was subsequently unelected from the City Council. Now the three remaining are subject to recall after a petition gathered enough signatures, which were certified by the city clerk in January.
The group being recalled was discussing things like mask mandates, use of Covid-19 relief funds, how to get more progressives on boards and commissions, and an anti-police ordinance. These and other items that come before the council were discussed without the knowledge of the other council members.
The council members in question have said that the conversations were innocent and that they meant no harm. Voters will be deciding whether the offenses were egregious enough to remove the three remaining from office.
Early voting is already open at City Hall. Absentee ballot applications are due on Friday, April 8. Palmer does not conduct a mail-in-only election, but uses the traditional in-person method of casting a ballot, and absentee ballots, which must be actively requested by a voter.