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Mayor’s health department pick resigns ahead of confirmation vote

Published: Aug. 6, 2021 at 4:07 PM AKDT|Updated: Aug. 6, 2021 at 6:14 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - David Morgan, the appointee to be the next director of the Anchorage Health Department, has resigned.

Mayor Dave Bronson, who selected Morgan for the position, said he had accepted the resignation on Friday, according to a press release.

“I regretfully accept David Morgan’s resignation today as Director of the Anchorage Health Department,” Bronson wrote in the release. “David Morgan has proven over many years in public health administration that he is highly experienced, qualified, and capable.”

In the release, Bronson said the resignation was due to “what can only be described as a political campaign against him.”

Morgan’s resignation comes days before he was set to be confirmed by the Anchorage Assembly. The assembly moved up the vote on the confirmation and also held a work session to ask Morgan more questions, citing concerns over statements Morgan made publicly and online about the pandemic.

During an interview with Alaska’s News Source, Morgan was reluctant to say that the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing, saying, “It’s a personal view kind of thing ... Pandemic is an adjective that describes a situation.” He later clarified that “we’re in a pandemic for the unvaccinated.”

“The Anchorage Assembly has long acknowledged that a new Mayor should have the authority and ability to appoint his or her own senior leadership team,” Bronson said in the release. “However, the Assembly is headed down a very dangerous path that challenges years of precedent and undermines any future Administration from performing its required duties.”

Bronson has named Anchorage Health Department Deputy Director DeeAnn Fetko as acting director until the position can be filled, according to the release.

In his resignation letter, which was included in the press release, Morgan wrote that he felt his experience and “record in public health” would have made him “exceptionally qualified” to serve as director of the city health department.

“Unfortunately, it appears as though credentials and qualifications do not matter in the face of deep seated partisan opposition,” Morgan wrote in the resignation letter.

He said it became clear he was the target of an organized “political witch hunt.”

“Sadly, members of the Anchorage Assembly and well-known political activists spread misinformation, lies and even slanderous information in order to discredit my name, derail my nomination and undermine Mayor Bronson’s efforts to bring Anchorage together,” Morgan wrote.

Anchorage Assembly Vice Chair Christopher Constant told Alaska’s News Source he was grateful to Bronson “for putting the municipality of Anchorage before politics.”

“The decision to accept Mr. Morgan’s resignation is in the best interest of the municipality,” Constant said.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include additional information.

Correction: This article has been updated to correct the spelling of DeeAnn Fetko’s name, which was misspelled in a press release from the mayor’s office.

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