Former Anchorage mayors push to have ordinance removed from Anchorage Assembly

Former Anchorage Mayors push to have ordinance removed from Anchorage Assembly
Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 11:01 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - On Thursday, a group of former Anchorage mayors, Anchorage assembly members, and citizens at large submitted a referendum application to the City of Anchorage clerk to petition the removal of A-O 2022-60. On July 12, the Anchorage Assembly passed the ordinance 9-3, that would allow them to remove a sitting Anchorage may from office over a breach of public trust.

“Process established under the charter is a civil law preceding. It has due process. It’s like a hearing officer proceeding. It has record keeping, testimony and sworn oaths and all of that,” said Christopher Constant, an Anchorage Assembly member.

That includes the following:

  1. Acceptance of cash gifts from one doing business with the municipality
  2. Violation of chapter 1.15
  3. Perjury
  4. Falsification of records
  5. Filing false reports
  6. Nepotism
  7. Making personal use of municipal or school district property
  8. Destruction of municipal or school district property
  9. Actual or attempted official misconduct, as defined by state law
  10. Ordering a municipal employee or contractor employed by the supervisory board to undertake an unlawful act
  11. A substantial breach of a statutory-, Code- or Charter-imposed duty
  12. Failure to faithfully execute the directives of a duly enacted 9 ordinance.

On July 16, Mayor Dave Bronson vetoed the ordinance. His veto was then overruled by the Assembly on Aug. 1.

Former Anchorage Mayor George Wuerch said that the Ordinance denies the public’s voice to be heard. One of the reasons why he stands behind the referendum.

“Preserve the process — we protect the charter,” Wuerch said. “We believe we need to stand up for this city. We need to protect the charter. We need to ensure the separation of the powers of government, the legislative and the executive.”

Wuerch is joined by former Mayor Dan Sullivan, seven former assembly members, and four citizens at large in the process of pushing forward the referendum to repeal the ordinance.

“The mayor is elected by all the people of Alaska, if he’s going to be removed he needs to be removed and that’s what we have followed for the last 46 years, a recall process for the mayor. Effective and available,” Wuerch said.

However, Constant said that even with the new ordinance in place, the public still has the power to file for a recall. The ordinance and the recall are two completely different options.

“The recall is really a political process. The process under AO-2022-64S is a quasi-judicial process. It involves a judge,” Constant said.

Yet, Wuerch argues the assemblies’ actions amount to a power grab.

“The assembly has overstepped their power. That is one reason why this group has come together to say we want to file for this referendum for a recall, not recall excuse me repeal, repeal of this ordinance,” Wuerch said.

The next step remains in the city clerk’s hands as the referendum application is being reviewed. The clerk has 30 days to certify or deny the application. If certified, the petition would need to have 7,545 signatures.

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