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Assembly postpones vote to August on filling vacancies in mayor’s office

Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 11:32 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - An ordinance that would update the requirements in Anchorage’s city charter for filling a vacancy in the mayor’s office was postponed until August by the Assembly.

The measure was introduced by John Weddleton and Crystal Kennedy and would require a special election to be held within a set amount of time in order to ensure an elected successor assumed the mayor’s office. Last year, assembly member Austin Quinn-Davidson was chosen by members of the Assembly to serve as acting mayor for around nine months after the resignation of former Mayor Ethan Berkowitz in 2020.

“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.

The two exceptions to the rule in the proposed ordinance are:

  • If it’s the final year of the mayor’s term when the vacancy occurs and there are less than 150 days until the next regular election, the vacancy wouldn’t be filled and the acting mayor would serve until the person elected mayor to a new term takes office.
  • If the vacancy occurs 90 days or more, but less than 120 days before, the next regular election, a successor may be elected through the regular election process.

This ordinance was up for discussion and expected vote at Tuesday night’s Anchorage Assembly meeting, but then moved to a later date.

“I agree that making changes to the charter is potentially a very big thing and should be a broader discussion,” said Assembly Chair Suzanne LaFrance. “So I’m in support of continuing the conversation and taking this up on Aug. 23.”

Weddleton said this will give them more time to discuss the topic in time for the 2023 ballot, but in the meantime Assembly Vice Chair Chris Constant will be introducing this same concept as a code change instead of a change in the charter.

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