QUESTION: DID STORM HANSEN-CAVASOS LIVE INSIDE CITY LIMITS?
Former Homer City Council member Tom Stroozas has filed a formal election contest with Anchorage Superior Court today, challenging the election and seating of Council member Storm Hansen-Cavasos.
The lawsuit claims that Hansen-Cavasos was not an eligible candidate in the Oct. 1, 2019 City Council election because she failed to meet the residency requirement; Homer City Code requires candidates for the City Council to be residents inside city limits for at least one year prior to the date of the election.
Under Homer City Code, a candidate or 10 registered voters are allowed to contest a municipal election. This involves filing a contest with the City of Homer, and seeking judicial review by filing a complaint with the Superior Court.
“Although, I am sure some partisan types will attack me by saying that this lawsuit is just sour grapes, but this is about election integrity and the rule of law,” said Stroozas. “I have already publicly stated that I will not be seeking the seat on the City Council for myself even if the court orders a new election to be held.”
Prior to the certification of the election, Stroozas filed a formal challenge with the city.
Evidence provided with his challenge were numerous documents and sworn statements showing that Hansen-Cavasos was living in a leased house off East End Road, in Fritz Creek up until Aug. 2019.
Additionally, in April 2019, some six months before the election, Hansen-Cavasos filed a voter registration claiming her address off East End Road as “the residence address where [she] claim[s] residency.” Hansen-Cavasos’ signed the voter registration “under penalty of perjury” affirming the information provided on her registration form was “true and accurate.” Providing false information on a voter registration form is a Class A Misdemeanor under Alaska Statute 15.56.050.
“Alaska statutes create a strong presumption of residency at the address listed in the voter registration that can only be overcome in very limited circumstances that don’t exist in this case,” said Keri-Ann Baker, attorney with the law firm of Reeves Amodio LLC, which is representing Stroozas in the case.
“What is also unique is that this isn’t a case of someone failing to update their voter registration at their new address, but a candidate filing a voter registration and later claiming it contained false information,” Stroozas said.
Hansen-Cavasos didn’t register to vote at an address inside Homer city limits until August 8, 2019, the same day she filed her Declaration of Candidacy. In her candidate declaration, she claimed to having been a resident of the City of Homer since May 2018. Hansen- Cavasos later submitted an affidavit to the election contest claiming to have moved to Homer in June 2018.
In 2019, Hansen-Cavasos also claimed her address off East End Road as her residence on her Permanent Fund dividend application. Stroozas also provided evidence of several text message and social media postings where Hansen-Cavasos refers to her address off East End Road as her “home”, including one text message on July 4, 2019 where Hansen- Cavasos states that she “will be living in town soon.”
“Ms. Cavasos can’t provide a straight answer on why, if she lived in the City like she claims, she has filed multiple documents with the State of Alaska and other government entities listing a false address,” Stroozas said. “And it’s not like this was a one-time offense. Quite simply, she is either filing multiple false documents with the government under risk of criminal penalty or she is lying to the voters – and she needs to answer for that.”
The City of Homer and the Homer City Council are defendents in the case.
With today’s Anchorage Superior Court filing, Stroozas is seeking a declaration from the court that Hansen-Cavasos was not legally qualified to be a candidate in the election and asks that her election invalidated.
The complaint also seeks a restraining order preventing Hansen- Cavasos from remaining seated on the City Council and from performing official acts as a City Council member until the full case can be heard. Stroozas has also requested that the Superior Court hear the case on an expedited schedule.
Stroozas is represented by Keri-Ann Baker and Tom Amodio of the law firm Reeves Amodio LLC.
“These disputes can be politically charged,” said Baker, “but frankly we are simply focused on the law and ultimately, we are confident that once our client has the opportunity to present all the evidence, he will prevail in this case.”
The case has been assigned to Judge Andrew Guidi.
Cassie Lawver, a conservative activist who originally identified the residency problem with Hansen-Cavasos, is taking contributions to pay for the attorneys. She can be reached at caslawver @ gmail.com.