By SEAN MURPHY
Two years ago this month, I joined Eaglexit after reading an article on how large our municipality had become. It explained how representation in other communities within the municipality were underrepresented. The article also explained how our school district in the Municipality of Anchorage was one of the largest in the country yet ranked at the bottom when it came to proficiency. The sheer size, school board members elected at large, and lack of accountability were listed as the main reason for its difficulties. Our school district and the current municipality has lost the ability to provide schools and services that reflect our communities’ values.
The solution in the article spoke directly to my heart. It talked of self-governance of my community.
I was for Eaglexit before I even knew what it was. For years I have picked up friends and family at the airport in Anchorage, drove to my house in Eagle River, and as I drove, I would explain to them that communities from Girdwood to Eklutna were all under the control of the Municipality of Anchorage. They were all in shock. Where is the representation in those outlying communities?
As an early American history teacher for a period during my career in education, I went back to the basic principles of our Constitution. There are seven: Popular Sovereignty, Republicanism, Federalism, Separation of Powers, Checks and Balances, Limited Government, and Individual Rights. Most of us are familiar with the last four, but I would like to visit the first three.
Popular Sovereignty is the doctrine that sovereign power is vested in the people and that those chosen by election to govern or to represent must conform to the will of the people. It has been a while since I felt our current assembly was conforming to the will of the people in our communities. We do have two assembly members from Chugiak, Peters Creek, Eklutna, and Eagle River, but they are not able to achieve maximal support to our residents as they are often overruled by the Anchorage majority on the Assembly. In essence, we have taxation without adequate representation.
Republicanism is a theory of government in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and exercised by representatives they elected either directly or indirectly. Republicanism also believes a republic is the best form of government. A republic is a form of government where the citizens conduct their governing affairs for their own benefit rather than for the benefit of a ruler or rulers. I do not believe this principle is being practiced to its’ full potential in our communities that are not being governed at the maximum local level.
Federalism is a system of government in which the same territory is controlled by two levels of government. Generally, an overarching national government is responsible for broader governance of larger territorial areas, while the smaller subdivisions, states, and cities govern the issues of local concern. In Alaska we have our state government, boroughs, and municipalities. In the communities of Assembly district 2, we should have more than two representatives on a soon to be 12-person assembly. Our combined communities of over 50,000 people have the potential to govern ourselves in matters of local concern.
I do not believe that these principles are being practiced in the governance of our communities to their full capacity in our current Municipality of Anchorage and Anchorage school District. These are nonpartisan principles of our U.S. Constitution and our Alaska Constitution.
This can’t be a conservative or a liberal cause. This a community cause for maximum local self-governance.
Our Constitution had a nickname: a “bundle of compromises.” This was because the delegates to the Constitutional Convention had to compromise on numerous difficult key points to create a new Constitution that was acceptable to each of the diverse states.
Our community should practice that same sense of compromise as we move forward in exploring the detachment and incorporating of our hometowns. We need to listen to each other, not cancel someone’s opinion because we don’t agree with them. Let us concentrate on the process and will of our communities to be self-governing.
Eaglexit is dedicated to getting the petition drafted, finalized, and submitted to the Local Boundary Commission in the next six months. It will take money for media, polling, and perhaps most costly and important legal assistance. Please consider supporting the creation of the next new municipality in Alaska. As anticipated by our Alaskan founders, when communities grow and are ready to become independent, it is right that they do so.
It takes all of us:
Time – Help draft the petition and charter, get signatures
Effort – Share with friends and neighbors
Analyze – Review the potentials and decide a course of action
Money – Donate at www.Eaglexit.com
Thank you for joining us in this effort,
Sean Murphy came to Alaska in the Army, met his wife and moved to Eagle River in 1999 with his family. He is a retired Anchorage School District educator and administrator. He is active with his community council and is the new chair of Eaglexit. He can be reached at [email protected].