Assemblyman Chris Constant snarked over the phone that it was “a rare political win” for Mayor Dave Bronson, when it became evident that Junior Aumavae had the votes and the support of the room.
The Anchorage Assembly on Tuesday night voted unanimously to confirm Aumavae as chief equity officer for the Municipality.
This, after earlier this week the Assembly drafted resolution that would have postponed his confirmation until after the April Anchorage elections and until after a court case relating to the position was settled.
It was unclear what changed the mind of the Assembly’s leftist majority. Many of them were wearing Polynesian leis, which were passed out by members of the Polynesian community on Tuesday night at the regularly scheduled Assembly meeting. The Loussac Library Assembly Chambers were packed with Aumavae supporters, and it may have become clear to some on the Assembly that their very re-elections hung on whether they confirmed the man who has already held the position for five months.
Assemblyman Felix Rivera pointed out that the sudden confirmation of Aumavae came without a confirmation hearing, but the sitting Assembly Chairwoman, Meg Zaletel, allowed the confirmation to proceed, against tradition and precedent. Rules were broken because it was a political decision to break them. Rivera, clearly unhappy to have to go along with the majority, asked that such a confirmation never happen again in that manner.
Assemblywoman Suzanne LaFrance did not rule over the meeting on Tuesday because she has isolated at home with a case of Covid. She called into the meeting, clearly feeling the effects of the virus. Also not attending in person was Assemblyman and Vice Chair Constant, who sounded inebriated, combative, and accusatory on the phone, calling in from Washington, D.C., where he is on a trip to advance his run for Congress. Assemblywomen Jamie Allard and Crystal Kennedy also called into the meeting.
The entire confirmation process took up at least an hour of the Assembly meeting, and Zaletel called for one five-minute break when people would not stop clapping for Aumavae.
The Assembly in 2020 created a position of chief equity officer, and the unelected Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson appointed Clifford Armstrong III just weeks before Bronson took over as mayor. By October, Bronson had fired Armstrong and hired Aumavae. That authority to fire someone on his staff is now being litigated, with the Assembly maintaining the mayor has no right to fire the person appointed to that position.