Dustin Darden and Nial Williams, Anchorage residents and community activists, have filed a lawsuit against the Anchorage Municipality because the city has not held an election to fill the long-vacant seat of Austin Quinn-Davidson.
Davidson has been acting mayor since October 24, and her district has gone unrepresented since then. The majority on the Anchorage Assembly voted to not hold a special election to put an elected temporary mayor in place, and they have also refused to hold a special election to fill the seat that she has left, while she serves as acting mayor.
The Municipal Charter says elections must be held within 90 days, and it has now been over 100 days since these two positions have been in limbo.
Darden and Williams filed an appeal of administrative decision in Anchorage Superior Court on Tuesday.
Dustin Darden filed for the unposted vacancy on the Assembly for the regular election scheduled for April 6, 2021. His declaration of candidacy and other required forms were signed, notarized, and stamped on Jan. 29, 2021, the final day of the filing period.
Barbara Jones, the Municipal Clerk sent a letter to Darden, advising him of a “Notice of Deficiency,” on his candidacy because she had not posted West Anchorage seat 3E as vacant. Darden requested a hearing, as guaranteed under Title 28.30.040, 3.60, but was denied.
“The Municipality of Anchorage has refused to acknowledge Assembly District 3 – Seat E – West Anchorage as vacant. According to 28.30.050.A, no person can hold more than one elected office of the following: mayor, assembly, and school board. Austin Quinn-Davidson cannot hold both the mayoral seat and an assembly seat simultaneously, thus Seat 3E must be vacant,” Darden wrote. In effect, Quinn-Davidson holds two seats, since her Assembly seat is being held for her to return to, he argued.
“According to Article 4 of the Municipal Charter, the power of the Assembly is vested in 11 members, not the 10 members that have been present and voting since October 23, 2020 when Austin Quinn-Davidson took on a second elected office of the unlawful acting mayor,” he wrote.
Darden and Williams, representing themselves, asked for an expedited hearing and are seeking relief for Darden to be placed on the ballot for the regular election, and for the Municipality to reprint the ballots if necessary.
It’s a long shot, but the two also seek to have Darden take office in Assembly District 3 Seat E immediately upon certification of the regular election, April 20, 2021. Darden is the only candidate to have filed for that seat, so presumably would win, under this logic.
Both Jones and Municipal Attorney Kate Vogel were served by a process server on Tuesday, Darden said.
“It is time for the Municipality of Anchorage to be forced to follow the Municipal Charter and for the citizens of West Anchorage to have fair, lawful and equitable representation,” he said.
Darden is the activist who Assembly Chair Felix Rivera had arrested at a recent meeting, when Rivera cut off Darden’s microphone during his 3-minute time for public testimony.
It is widely known in Anchorage that Quinn-Davidson has put her name forward for a position in the Biden Administration and may be leaving office soon.
Darden and Williams seek support to offset the financial impacts of their legal efforts through a GoFundMe page: