Anchorage Assembly reorganizes: Austin Quinn-Davidson chosen as new chair, acting mayor

Published: Oct. 16, 2020 at 6:14 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Austin Quinn-Davidson has been chosen as the new Anchorage Assembly chair and is set to be the acting mayor once Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s resignation goes into effect next Friday.

The vote occurred at the assembly’s special Friday night meeting to discuss reorganization; Felix Rivera was chosen to be the vice chair.

While votes were cast privately, several members spoke in support of Quinn-Davidson ahead of the decision, including her colleague from West Anchorage, Kameron Perez-Verdia.

“Miss Quinn-Davidson is somebody who I have worked very closely with over the last two years and have come to trust and know really well," he said.

Quinn-Davidson will be Anchorage’s first female and first openly gay acting mayor. She has been a member of the assembly since 2018.

A vacant mayor’s seat must be filled by regular or special elections no less than 90 days the vacancy occurs, according to the Anchorage Municipal Charter.

The assembly has three legally defensible choices when it comes to filling the mayor’s vacant seat, according to Municipal Attorney Kate Vogel at Friday’s meeting. One: the assembly can hold a special election on or after Jan. 21, 2021 to elect a new mayor who will serve until June 30, 2021; two: resume the normal election on April 6, 2021, and have the elected mayor take office on July 1, 2021; or, three: resume the normal election on April 6, 2021, but have the elected mayor take office sooner than July 1, 2021 by way of an ordinance or other Assembly action.

The acting mayor would later return as chair of the assembly when the new mayor is elected. The chair becoming acting mayor does not create a vacancy on the Assembly.

Berkowitz announced his resignation earlier this week after admitting to having an inappropriate, but consensual relationship with local news anchor Maureen “Maria” Athens years ago. Athens took to social media a week ago to post claims of alleged illegal internet activity by Berkowitz, accusing the mayor of inappropriately posting nude photos to a website.

The mayor’s office quickly released a statement calling the claims “slanderous” and “categorically false.” The Anchorage Police Department confirmed over the weekend that they were aware of the allegations and a joint investigation with the FBI revealed no evidence of criminal conduct, though the FBI on Tuesday added that the Anchorage field office is continuing to monitor the situation.

Friday’s special meeting was the last assembly meeting scheduled before Berkowitz’s resignation. The next assembly meeting will be held on Oct. 27.

Matt Leseman contributed to this story.

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