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‘It just makes no sense’: Some Anchorage Assembly members speak out in favor, against special election

Austin Quinn-Davidson is now Anchorage’s acting mayor; it is undetermined how long she’ll hold the seat.
The microphone for public testimony at the Anchorage Assembly lights up as a resident...
The microphone for public testimony at the Anchorage Assembly lights up as a resident approaches the podium.(KTUU)
Published: Oct. 23, 2020 at 8:49 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Anchorage Assembly Chair Austin Quinn-Davidson officially took over as the acting mayor of Anchorage on Friday evening just after 6:00 p.m.

Former Mayor Ethan Berkowitz resigned on Oct. 13 due to what he called unacceptable personal conduct. Berkowitz’s term does not end until after the April general election.

So how will the next mayor be elected? The assembly has three legally defensible choices: One, Quinn-Davidson holds the seat until a new mayor is elected in April who would eventually take the seat in July.

Two: have Quinn-Davidson in the seat until the April election, with the new mayor taking the seat earlier than July.

The third option is a special election, which can be held as early as Jan. 21, 2021.

“It’s never been the assembly’s intent to be the mayor,” assembly member Crystal Kennedy said, “or an assembly member’s intent to be the mayor. So we need to make sure that the population of Anchorage, our voters, get that opportunity to make that decision.”

According to Municipal Clerk Barbara Jones, a special election with a runoff could cost taxpayers around $650,000.

Kennedy says the community can’t put a price tag when it comes to stability for the future.

“I am emphatically against a special election. It makes no fiscal sense. It’s going to cost $650,000 to run a special election and we’re going to have four elections in the span of five months. Just imagine that. Four elections in five months,” assembly Vice Chair Felix Rivera said. “... Just imagine having three different mayors back to back to back and the people of Anchorage will be yo-yo’d between one direction and another, it just makes no sense.”

Kennedy feels that whoever wins a special election should intend to continue to run for reelection in April.

“I think the point is that we’ve had enough turmoil in this community for so long now that people are looking for stability and the sooner we can get an elected mayor in there the better," she said.

The assembly plans to vote on the special election resolution next Tuesday.

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