Smoking gun: Homer city council members intended to create ‘sanctuary city’

Homer, Alaska, an arts and fishing community torn apart by the efforts of three city council members seeking “sanctuary city” status.


Three Homer City Council members who championed an effort to make Homer a “sanctuary city” now face a grassroots resistance movement themselves. They face a recall petition.

Sanctuary cities are self-declared safe havens for illegal immigrants. They are controversial for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which is that being in the country illegally is against the law. Many left-leaning individuals support the concept of creating safe-space sanctuary cities so illegal immigrants won’t be deported. San Francisco, for example, is a sanctuary city.

In early February, three Homer City Council members introduced a long-winded resolution rebuking President Donald Trump and declaring the city a welcoming place for all. Their original draft resolution and their pattern of emails leading up to their action show their intent more clearly — this was a movement to establish sanctuary status without exactly saying so.

Now, Homer City Clerk Jo Johnson has certified a citizens’ petition drive to recall Council members Donna Aderhold, David Lewis, and Catriona Reynolds.

Petitioner Mike Fell, a retired local businessman, explained to Must Read Alaska that the three are unfit for office after they attempted to use subterfuge and held secret meetings to make Homer a “sanctuary city” for illegal immigrants, for misleading the public about their actions and intent, and for using their offices for partisan political purposes.

Homer City Council members Donna Aderhold,  Catriona Reynolds, David Lewis

In a series of emails between the three, they sought technical assistance from a group that promotes sanctuary cities. The emails also show collaboration with the group, “49 Moons,” which is part of the so-called “Indivisible” grassroots movement to resist the presidency of Donald Trump. Must Read Alaska has written extensively about the group and others like it in Alaska.

Must Read has also obtained an extensive file of communications between the three council members, a fraction of which is excerpted here.

  • In this Jan. 30 memo, Catriona Reynolds reaches out to the radical group for technical assistance:
From: Catriona Reynolds <[email protected]>
Subject: sanctuary city

I am ready to introduce a resolution that Homer, Alaska is a sanctuary city. Do you have any templates for wording that I can use?
You may also reach me at  907-235-3436 or 907-299-3410(evenings)
  • Reynolds gets a quick response with helpful guidance from the group, and a link that contains a treasure trove of “sanctuary city” language:
From: “B. Loewe” <[email protected]>
To: <[email protected]>
Subject: Re: [web] sanctuary city

Hi. Thanks so much for reaching out. 
We released a policy guide today and are currently crafting model language for legislation. 
You can find the guide at
  • Ms. Reynolds also indicates she modeled the language for the resolution after the sanctuary language from Olympia, Washington and reminds B Loewe, communication director for Mijente, that she will be running for re-election in the fall:
 From: <[email protected]>
To: <[email protected]>
Subject: RE: [web] sanctuary city

So far I rampantly plagiarized Olympia Washington’s recent resolution… but would love to include language about transgendered individuals and LGBTQ individuals in general, which they didn’t.Our next meeting is february 13th and I plan to introduce it then, I would need finalized wording ASAP.

p.s. This is my third year on Homer City Council, I will stand for re-election this fall
  • Council Member Reynolds the next day begins signaling her intent to local supporters, including the group 49 Moons, which is an Anchorage-based group that is identified not only with the “Indivisible” anti-Trump movement, but also the Democratic Socialists of Alaska:

Subject: RE: registry defiance proposal

Hi Melisa,
I am introducing a resolution that makes Homer a sanctuary city at the next meeting.

Thanks! 🙂

Catriona Reynolds
Homer City Council Member
  • Several emails between Reynolds, Lewis and Aderhold discuss the original draft, as well as the “softened” version. They set up meetings, shared drafts back and forth, and then this email is sent to Mayor Bryan Zak by Reynolds:

Hi Mayor Zak,

I will provide more detailed wording within the next few days.


  • Mayor Bryan Zak responds to his City Clerk, indicating he is not on board with the effort:

From: Bryan Zak
To: Jo Johnson <[email protected]>
Cc: Katie Koester <[email protected]>
Subject: Re: resolution for next meeting

I would not like us to undertake this at this time.

Although the final proposed resolution is more tame, the original was leaked prior to the meeting, forcing the group to change their draft. The original draft of their group’s resolution is posted here.


Mike Fell, who helped organize the recall petition, says the three are unfit for office, “by their individual efforts in preparation of Resolution 16-121 and 17-109, the text of which stands in clear and obvious violation of Homer City Code Title 1.”

That section of law limits city officials from supporting political candidates or ballot propositions while in office.

Fell and others in the Homer community such as Larry Zuccaro were offended when the three took up two separate political resolutions that related to events not relevant to Homer City Council’s nonpartisan scope of work.

  • Resolution 16-121 supported Standing Rock Lakota tribe and opposed the Dakota Access Pipeline.
  • Resolution 17-019 was the softened sanctuary resolution: “A resolution … Stating That the City of Homer Adheres to the Principle of Inclusion, and Herein Committing This City to Resisting Efforts to Divide This Community With Regard to Race, Religion, Ethnicity, Gender, National Origin, Physical Capabilities, or Sexual Orientation, Regardless of Those Efforts, Including From Local, State or Federal Agencies.”

Both resolutions failed.

Fell and a handful of other Homer residents have less than 60 days to gather the 347 signatures needed to have a recall election. Lewis’ and Reynolds’ seats come open during the October election.

Fell, whose grandfather was born in Skagway in 1910, and who himself was born in Homer, is part of a five-generation Alaska family. When he was in business, he kept his head down regarding politics, because Homer is a small town. But he says he’s had enough: “We have to get organized. They are now pushing back with the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), but we have documentation from businesses in Homer who have had cancellations on bookings directly because of this. If Homer loses one dollar of revenue because of them…”

Larry Zuccaro sent a letter to the three council members, which said in part, “…you have brought and committed an act that none of us wanted forced upon our once peaceful community. What you have done is ripped apart the social fabric by design in an attempt to bring social destruction. I suspect you have little understanding of the depth of what you have done, but if it is the intent of this resolution to further divide, create hate, anger and rage, and move our citizens closer to some kind of civil unrest like we are seeing across our nation, then this is the very way forward to that destination.

“The process to have the three of you recalled has already begun. If you have any respect, honor, or any moral compass (which I doubt), you will submit your resignation before the shame of the process of a very public recall catches up to you.”

The pro-sanctuary side is also active, as evidenced by this social media exchange between Council member David Lewis and one of the supporters of the Homer sanctuary resolution, Jeremiah Emmerson. Here, Lewis reflects that in hindsight putting the resolution on social media was not the smartest move, and has him recommending Sun Tzu’s Art of War as a guide for future action:

Whatever the outcome, it promises to be a lively Spring in the quaint burg of Homer.