Bronson taps retired educator Judy Eledge as new library director following assembly’s rejection of Sami Graham

Anchorage Public Library.
Anchorage Public Library.(KTUU)
Published: Aug. 27, 2021 at 4:30 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - After his first pick was turned down by the Anchorage Assembly, Mayor Dave Bronson has tapped former educator and Anchorage School Board hopeful Judy Norton Eledge to be the library director for the city.

Bronson’s first appointee, Sami Graham, was not confirmed by the assembly during their last regular meeting, with several members questioning whether she was qualified, as she has two masters degrees but lacks a degree in library science. Immediately following that vote, Bronson named Graham as his new chief of staff, replacing Craig Campbell.

Bronson noted that Graham would have two offices, one of which would be located in the library.

On Friday, Bronson announced he has tapped Eledge, who ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Anchorage School Board during the last municipal election, as his new pick for library director. Eledge taught in Alaska for more than 40 years before retiring in 2003, and was more recently selected to develop the Alaska Reading Course program.

In her run for the Anchorage School Board, Eledge presented herself as a conservative voice. In the lead up to the election, she came under scrutiny for several social media posts that appeared to come from her account which flouted COVID-19 safety measures and criticized Muslims, Alaska Native people and people of color.

Eledge told Alaska’s News Source at the time that she had made some of the posts, but insisted others had been altered.

“Yeah, I wrote a couple of them, but I’m not going to go into which ones it was and what I said,” she said at the time. “But I — there’s a bunch that I did not write, were not even on my Facebook memories and I’m just not going to talk about it. And there were some that were screenshot and rewritten.”

Eledge ended up losing what became a very close race against Kelly Lessens after the municipality conducted a recount because the margin separating the two candidates was less than 0.5%.

“I’ve long said that reading and literacy must be a top priority for the Anchorage Library, which is why I remain committed to appointing a highly qualified candidate with the background and experience to help refresh and refocus our children’s attention on reading,” Bronson is quoted as saying in Friday’s press release. “Like Sami Graham, Judy Norton Eledge is immensely qualified for the role of Library Director. She brings to the Municipality decades of leadership and educational experience, at the state and local level, including as a teacher, school administrator, and champion for literacy and reading. While some members of the Assembly will balk at Judy’s nomination, our administration will continue advocating for Library leadership we believe will best facilitate and promote literacy and lifelong learning.”

In the release, Eledge thanked Bronson for the opportunity to advance the library’s mission, especially literacy.

“I will work hard to make the Anchorage public libraries the most welcoming and relevant of our City’s facilities,” Eledge is quoted as saying.

Mayoral appointees to head city departments are subject to final confirmation by the assembly.

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