Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson will remain Anchorage’s chief executive for eight months.
With just three votes in favor of a special election to serve out the term of the shortened term of Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, the Assembly chose to skip the special election and just move on, and allow Quinn-Davidson to serve over 20 percent of Berkowitz’ elected term. Berkowitz resigned after revelations came to light over his relationship with a reporter.
A regular election for mayor will be held April 6, but the successful candidate will not take office until July 1.
Assembly members Jamie Allard, Crystal Kennedy and John Weddleton voted in favor of a special election. The six others on the Assembly voted it down: Suzanne LaFrance, Chris Constant, Meg Zalatel, Kameron Perez-Verdia, Forrest Dunbar and Pete Peterson. Quinn-Davidson, who represents West Anchorage on the Assembly, did not vote, as she is acting mayor.
The municipal charter is clear that a special election must be held, and Assembly member Jamie Allard read aloud the relevant section of the charter that illustrates that point. She contends it is a violation of the charter to not hold a special election.
“I don’t believe that the charter actually gives the Assembly an option,” said Assembly member Kennedy during the Wednesday meeting. “But it’s actually much more specific than it’s made out to be.”
The subjectivity being used by the Assembly to decide to not hold an election isn’t supported anywhere in the charter, Kennedy said.
“There is nothing in the charter says it depends on the mood of the voter or the cost, she said. “Actually we’ve made the process of elections so simple, we practically hand carry the ballot to the voter. That’s one advantage of this mail in ballot. The right to vote is so fundamental and the role of mayor is the highest office in our local government, so we need to respect it as such, we shouldn’t be taking this so lightly.”