By SCOTT LEVESQUE
The resignation of Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, announced Tuesday at the Anchorage Assembly meeting by his Chief of Staff Jason Bockenstedt, overshadowed the Assembly’s vote to extend the mayor’s emergency powers for the fifth time.
As AR 2020-379 was introduced, an intense battle ensued as Assembly Members lined up to pitch their particular amendment to the resolution.
Assembly Member Suzanne LaFrance got things started by introducing an amendment to change the emergency powers end date from December 31 to Nov. 30. The amendment passed 10-0.
Assembly Member John Weddleton joined the debate by proposing an amendment that would require public testimony for any further extension of the emergency powers. The amendment passed 10-0.
Assembly Member Meg Zaletel added an amendment to Weddleton’s amendment that would require a public hearing to occur two weeks before the emergency powers end date. The amendment passed by a 9-1 vote.
And finally, Assembly Member Crystal Kennedy introduced the most unique and promising amendment, which confirms that this current extension’s sole intention is to allow time to move all processes and operations from an emergency powers status to the city’s standard Municipality of Anchorage operation. This amendment passed by an 8-2 vote. Meg Zaletel and Forrest Dunbar both opposed the amendment.
Ultimately, the Assembly voted 9-1 in favor of extending the emergency powers, which gives the mayor vast power over operations during his final 10 days in office, after which the power will transfer to Chairman Felix Rivera, who is positioned to step into the role of acting mayor until a special election is called. Jamie Allard was the sole Assembly member who voted against the extension.