ASSEMBLY MEMBER ALLARD IS NOT IMPRESSED
The Anchorage chapter of the Alaska League of Women Voters has put the Anchorage Assembly on notice that the group is against a special election for acting Anchorage mayor.
In a letter to the Assembly, the League said a special election is simply not in the best interests of the voters.
The Anchorage Assembly on Tuesday will be taking up a proposal to hold a special election in January, as the winner of the regular April 6 election is not seated until July 1.
A second competing proposal would have the winner of the April 6 election be sworn in as soon as any runoff election is completed, and would leave Austin Quinn-Davidson in as acting mayor until then.
The entire exercise is being discussed after the hasty departure of the previous mayor, Ethan Berkowitz, who had been caught having an inappropriate relationship with a member of the press.
The agenda for the Anchorage Assembly meeting, which begins at 5 pm, is at this link.
“As the League of Women Voters of Anchorage, part of our mission is registering voters and providing voters with election information through voter guides as well as candidate forums and debates. Given the brief amount of time available, the significant effort involved, the upcoming holiday season, the pandemic, and the hundreds of thousands of dollars it takes to conduct a municipal election, it is not in the best interest of voters to hold a special election to elect another interim mayor between now and the next municipal election in April 2021,” the group wrote to the Assembly.
“Our municipal charter addresses a mayoral vacancy and the emergency procedures for such a vacancy have been implemented. Clear timelines are outlined in the law. In addition, the charter also allows our city leaders to make some common sense decisions regarding timing, which is what we strongly urge at this time,” the league wrote, saying voters will not have time to be informed in a January special election, which according to charter, would need to occur after Jan. 21, 2021.
“Working backward from that day, ballot packets in our city which uses the vote-by-mail method, must be mailed 21 days in advance which is New Year’s Day. New voters can register up to 30 days in advance of the election which would make the deadline December 23. People who have moved must also update their registration by that date. The trouble is, by then most people will be focused on family, handling pandemic holidays and certainly not thinking about an election at all,” the League wrote, noting that if a candidate does not get 45 percent of the vote, a runoff would need to be held.
Assembly member Jamie Allard from Eagle River responded to the League, which has typically been in favor of elections:
“I’m not surprised on your stand for not wanting the voters to be represented,” she wrote, reminding the League that women fought long and hard for the right to vote “and you want to encourage the Acting Mayor and the Assembly to violate the Charter and not allow the people to vote in a special election? After not speaking up in regards to the attacks on Ms. Leighan Gonzales, LWV is a complete disappointment. You have a clear agenda and it’s not to stand with women voters.”