AFN won’t endorse any candidates, ballot measures for the 2020 election

The 2018 AFN convention in Anchorage
The 2018 AFN convention in Anchorage(KTUU)
Published: Oct. 16, 2020 at 6:36 PM AKDT
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JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - The Alaska Federation of Natives will not endorse any candidates or ballot measures for the 2020 election.

Greg Razo, the chairman of the AFN Resolutions Committee, said that the COVID-19 pandemic prevented delegates from having equal participation to decide whether the state’s largest Alaska Native organization would support any candidates.

AFN endorsements are relatively rare, but the organization endorsed Hillary Clinton for president in 2016, the first time in its history that it had endorsed a presidential candidate. AFN also endorsed Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, in her successful 2010 write-in campaign for the U.S. Senate.

The AFN resolution process is also different for 2020. Resolutions are typically introduced on the floor and debated by delegates before being voted on for possible approval.

Jeffry Silverman, a spokesperson for AFN, said that due to COVID-19, debates were held at regional caucus meetings all week. Razo briefly spoke during a virtual meeting about the draft resolutions and explained how delegates could submit amendments virtually before the board of directors considers them at its December meeting.

The resolutions are an important guide for AFN’s work for the year ahead, Silverman said.

One of the 2020 draft resolutions calls on the state of Alaska to make disaster declarations for subsistence fisheries after poor returns. Another resolution calls for the state to recognize Alaska Native tribes.

“Very sad” ASRC left AFN

AFN approved a resolution in 2019 that declared a climate change state of emergency after a heated floor debate. Delegates from the Arctic Slope Regional Corp. opposed the emergency declaration and voted to leave AFN less than two months later.

Julie Kitka, the president of AFN, said on Friday it was “very sad” that ASRC had left, but that there was still a dialogue with the native corporation. “We don’t pretend people disappear,” Kitka said.

“We’re still evolving and we hope that there will be dialogues after this convention to 2021 on several of the ones that have raised concerns or issues,” she added. “We hope that we’ll have a meeting of the minds and that we’ll be able to welcome people back.”

A spokesperson for Arctic Slope did not respond to a request for comment before publication on whether the native corporation was planning on returning to AFN.

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