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Sami Graham resigns as Mayor Bronson’s chief of staff

Sami Graham has resigned as chief of staff for Mayor Dave Bronson, according to a press release from his office Friday evening.
Published: Jan. 28, 2022 at 5:26 PM AKST|Updated: Jan. 28, 2022 at 6:06 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Sami Graham has resigned as chief of staff for Mayor Dave Bronson, according to a press release from his office Friday evening.

Graham, who was appointed by Bronson immediately after the Anchorage Assembly rejected her appointment to serve as the library director for the municipality, has served in the role since late August. Her resignation is effective Friday, according to the release from the mayor’s office.

An unsuccessful candidate for the Anchorage School Board in the most recent election, Graham was Bronson’s first pick to run the city’s library system. In a 4-7 vote, the assembly rejected her confirmation, with the main opposition among some assembly members being that her experience did not meet the minimum qualifications set out for the library director position, which include a degree in library science.

Graham has two master’s degrees, but neither of them are in library science.

Immediately after her confirmation failed, Bronson named her as his new chief of staff. She replaced Craig Campbell, who had been serving in that position.

“It was an honor to serve the citizens of Anchorage as the Mayor’s Chief of Staff,” Graham is quoted as saying in the press release Friday. “As I retire, I believe in the new direction for Anchorage and will continue to try to help wherever there is a need.”

According to the release, Alexis Johnson, who has served as a special assistant to the mayor, will become the new chief of staff. She currently also serves on the Anchorage Women’s Commission, the release states.

“I am honored that the Mayor has tapped me to be his Chief of Staff,” Johnson said in the release. “I want to thank Sami for her leadership and look forward to advancing the Mayor’s agenda for Anchorage.”

Graham’s resignation is the latest in the string of departures from the administration. Campbell, who became director of policy and programs when Graham took over as chief of staff, left the administration in October 2021.

Bronson’s first pick to head the Anchorage Health Department, David Morgan, resigned ahead of his scheduled confirmation hearing before the assembly in August 2021, due to what the administration described at the time as “a political campaign against him.” Morgan had come under scrutiny for comments he made regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. John Morris, the city’s coordinator for homeless services, resigned in October 2021. He had been in charge of developing the city’s plans in response to homelessness and was part of the negotiating team behind the city’s approach to transitioning away from mass emergency care by this summer.

Bronson’s second pick to run the city’s library system, Judy Norton Eledge, also resigned before the assembly could hold her confirmation hearing. At the time, the mayor’s office said this was due to Eledge not wanting to be subjected to “an unfair disparaging by the Anchorage Assembly of the mayor’s nominees.”

Eledge, who was also an unsuccessful candidate for the Anchorage School Board, had come under scrutiny for social media posts that appeared to come from her that criticized Muslims, Alaska Native people and people of color, and also flouted COVID-19 mitigation measures. Eledge admitted to making some of the posts, but denied making others.

In November, Anchorage Police Chief Ken McCoy announced he was retiring effective Feb. 1, after serving in the role for less than a year. McCoy, who had served the police force for 27 years and whose departure surprised members of the community, has since been named the region chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer for Providence Alaska.

Erika McConnell resigned from her position as deputy clerk for elections with the city in December.

“It is time for me to move on to something that is less stressful,” she said at the time.

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

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