Anchorage Assembly to vote on capping time an acting mayor can serve

Published: Jan. 24, 2022 at 6:40 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - An ordinance that would set a limit on the amount of time an acting mayor can serve the Municipality of Anchorage is being considered by the Anchorage Assembly, but its members still need to take a vote to place it on the April ballot due to the fact that it would alter city charter.

The measure was brought forward by assembly members John Weddleton and Crystal Kennedy, and comes after the assembly appointed member Austin Quinn-Davidson to serve as acting mayor for around nine months, after the resignation of former mayor Ethan Berkowitz in 2020.

The ordinance would change municipal charter to require that, in the case of a vacancy in the mayor’s office, a special election be held after no later than three months to elect a mayoral successor.

“We are trying to figure out what to do in case there’s a vacancy in the mayor and how to minimize the time that we have an acting mayor, minimize the time that that acting mayor is not in their regular assembly seat, and have an elected mayor,” Weddleton said.

At a work session on Monday, Kennedy wanted to make a change to the original proposal.

“To allow for a special election for mayor in the case of a vacated seat, if that seat is vacated a year or less than the regular election,” Kennedy said.

This would essentially allow a mayor to finish the current term on top of their own, and it wasn’t the only proposed change. Instead of changing city charter, Assembly Vice Chair Chris Constant preferred a version of the measure that would change city code, which wouldn’t require it to be on the ballot.

“If the vacancy occurs 90 days or more, but less than 120 days before the next regular election, the successor may be elected through the regular election,” Constant said of his proposal. “... They are filled through a special election which will be no sooner than 90 days and not more than 270 days after the occurrence.”

Weddleton said this code change would get close to a lot of the goals in the original ordinance, but it would mean the language in the city charter wouldn’t be changed. Weddleto said that change to the city charter should happen, in order to avoid confusion.

The assembly is scheduled to take this ordinance up at its Tuesday, Jan. 24 meeting and vote on whether to put in on the April ballot.

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