Prominent local government testifier Eugene Carl Haberman dies at age 70

Eugene Carl Haberman addresses the Anchorage Assembly Dec. 2018. (KTUU file)
Eugene Carl Haberman addresses the Anchorage Assembly Dec. 2018. (KTUU file)(KTUU)
Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 12:15 PM AKDT|Updated: Oct. 28, 2021 at 2:57 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A self-proclaimed public watchdog who attended many Anchorage Assembly meetings has died at the age of 70.

Eugene Carl Haberman died at his Wasilla residence after Alaska State Troopers discovered his body during a welfare check on Oct. 21, according to a trooper dispatch. Troopers said no foul play was suspected, and deemed he died of natural causes.

In a May 2019 story published by Alaska’s News Source, Haberman said he considered his role as a public testifier to keep the local government honest and to ensure the public had the chance to participate in local discussions.

“Morning, day, and night, I’m committed to this situation,” Haberman told Alaska’s News Source in 2019. “It’s my work, I believe, to try to make a situation where the public has a fair chance — that their voice is heard before government makes a decision.”

Haberman began nearly every public testimony he ever provided with the same introduction: “I represent myself. I follow the public process. When the public process is done more appropriately it is more in line with the public’s interest.”

Current assembly members told Alaska’s News Source that plans are in the works to honor Haberman in the near future. Eagle River/Chugiak representative Jamie Allard said she and fellow District 2 assembly member Crystal Kennedy are drafting a resolution. Assembly Vice Chair Christopher Constant said Assembly Chair Suzanne LaFrance was setting up an item for public hearing for the Nov. 23 assembly meeting.

Assembly members also shared thoughts on Haberman. Forrest Dunbar, who represents East Anchorage District 5, posted a picture on Twitter Wednesday evening of the last letter Haberman gave him. Dunbar added that following Wednesday’s regular meeting, he stopped by a craft shop on the way home and had the note framed.

Haberman attended nearly every meeting of the Anchorage and Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assemblies, as well as the Palmer City Council, Mat-Su Borough School District School Board and various other boards and council meetings.

“I will miss him and his attendance at our meetings. Some of his suggestions we implemented at our council meetings and agendas,” Palmer Mayor Edna DeVries said. “God rest his soul.”

Haberman frequently advocated for increased opportunities for public interaction concerning local government issues.

“Mr. Haberman was very engaged in the public process and had become a fixture at Mat-Su Borough School District School Board meetings.  His absence will not go unnoticed,” said Mat-Su Borough School District Superintendent Randy Trani.

Haberman would often spend at-eases asking additional questions of local elected officials.

“Eugene never advocated a partisan position but instead continuously engaged in promoting and trying to better the public process,” Mat-Su Assemblyman Jesse Sumner said. “I believe the commitment he made to meeting attendance and speaking in defense of the public process has bettered governance in our state and the example he set should continue to ensure democracy doesn’t die in darkness.”

Editor’s note: this story has been updated to include additional information.

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