War of words erupts during Wednesday Anchorage Assembly meeting

Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 10:35 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Wednesday night’s meeting of the Anchorage Assembly erupted into a heated exchange between Assembly Chair Felix Rivera and member Jamie Allard.

The exchange occurred while Rivera read a written statement toward the end of the meeting that addressed comments Allard had made at the Tuesday night assembly meeting, during which the assembly narrowly passed an extension of the city’s emergency declaration.

“I would do it again,” Rivera said Thursday night regarding the verbal sparring match.

“The comments made by the member from Chugiak-Eagle River were dripping with xenophobia,” Rivera said toward the end of the Wednesday meeting.

He took exception to Allard’s statement a night earlier, in which she implied that high rates of COVID-19 in Texas could be due to an influx of “illegal immigrants.”

“Isn’t it possible that it’s because the borders have been being infiltrated and that the illegal immigrants coming through have been identified as carrying the virus,” Allard asked a member of the public who brought up the topic of the Texas border during his testimony.

Rivera saved his reply for Wednesday’s meeting. He said it needed to be addressed.

“What was said, in my opinion, needed to be said,” Rivera said. “I think any thorough critique and response needed to be put out in the public. Because what I was critiquing was made and stated in the public eye.”

Debbie Ossiander, who left the assembly in 2013 after serving three terms, doesn’t believe Rivera handled the situation well.

“What you do is, I think, is create more and more resentment and make it harder and harder to ever cross and work together,” Ossiander said.

“I will be reaching out to Mr. Rivera to have a private, respectful conversation with him about how we can work more productively together in the future,” Allard wrote in an email.

“I’m more than happy to have a private conversation with Ms. Allard as long as it can be a productive conversation,” Rivera said.

Rivera did say he wishes he would have told Allard what he planned to say before the meeting.

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