Judge says recall of Felix Rivera will appear on municipal ballots in April

Felix Rivera, the target of ongoing recall efforts, was elected to the Anchorage Assembly in...
Felix Rivera, the target of ongoing recall efforts, was elected to the Anchorage Assembly in 2017.(KTUU)
Published: Jan. 25, 2021 at 6:06 PM AKST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A superior court judge has ordered that the recall of Anchorage Assembly Chair Felix Rivera will appear on municipal ballots during the upcoming election.

The recall petition, which was certified earlier this month, stems from an incident last August. Petitioners say Rivera knowingly allowed more than 15 people inside of the assembly chambers — breaking municipal Emergency Order 15.

On Thursday, the Midtown Citizen’s Coalition made arguments against allowing the recall to make it onto ballots in April. The group, made up of concerned residents, is not directly associated with Rivera. They say the recall effort’s arguments do not have enough legal standing to validate a recall, and that there’s not enough legal precedence related to the particulars of the situation in question.

“I can’t point you to a bright-line standard in this particular case, but I don’t think the city can either,” the coalition’s attorney, Kerri-Anne Baker, told the judge. “The reason why is because we are approaching the edges and boundaries law establishes. We are probably going to make some laws here.”

City Attorney Ruth Botstein also acknowledged some of the ambiguities surround emergency orders and the duties of the assembly chair; however, the municipality stood by its decision to certify the petition. Additionally, Botstein clarified that the city’s certification of the recall effort is not an endorsement of the recall effort, or the claims against Rivera.

“The default way to go in close case is towards letting the voters express their will,” she argued.

Thomas Amodio, one of the attorneys representing the coalition, acknowledged the judge’s ruling on Monday evening.

“Well, we’re disappointed with the judges decision. We plan to meet tomorrow to confer over whether or not we will appeal,” he said.

After the announcement, Alaska’s News Source spoke with Russell Biggs, the lead petitioner in the recall effort.

“Our 300 petitioners and 4,999 midtown residents are pleased that our voices, which have been ignored by the assembly, will finally be heard at the ballot box,” Biggs said in a text message response.

The municipal election is set to take place in April. The ruling, made by Judge Dani Crosby will put that issue of a recall into the hand of voters, but Crosby’s decision could still be appealed in Alaska’s Supreme Court.

Copyright 2021 KTUU. All rights reserved.