Anchorage Assembly rejects Bronson’s municipal attorney nominee

The Anchorage Assembly voted 8-4 in opposition of Mayor Dave Bronson’s appointee for municipal attorney, Mario Bird.
Published: Sep. 14, 2022 at 2:50 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Anchorage Assembly voted 8-4 in opposition of Mayor Dave Bronson’s appointee for municipal attorney, Mario Bird.

Bird is a practicing attorney in Anchorage who represented a group that sued the Assembly less than two years ago. Bird’s confirmation hearing came along with two other municipal department heads who had their confirmation vote postponed from the Aug. 23 meeting. Courtney Petersen was confirmed to lead the Office of Management and Budget on an 11-1 vote, and Michael Braniff was confirmed as the Parks and Recreation Department director by a unanimous vote.

Before the Assembly took up the three agenda items to vote on confirmation of municipal appointees, Chair Suzanne LaFrance read the section of the charter pertaining to the powers of the mayor and said that the members of the Assembly had received a memo from the Assembly council detailing the requirements during confirmation hearings.

“The mayor shall appoint all heads of municipal departments subject to confirmation by the Assembly on the basis of professional qualifications,” LaFrance read from the charter. “Assembly council’s review of the Anchorage municipal charter, transcripts of the proceedings of the commission that produced the charter, background principles of municipal law, and comparisons to similar state and federal provisions all support the conclusion that the Assembly has broad discretion to confirm or to refuse to confirm mayoral appointees.”

LaFrance went on to say that the members of the Assembly are not required to state why they feel an appointee should not be confirmed.

Assembly Member Jamie Allard stated that she had previously hired Bird, but that the contract was terminated approximately one year ago. LaFrance ruled as chair that Allard did not have a conflict of interest and was able to cast a vote on Bird’s confirmation.

Allard was joined by Assembly members Randy Sulte, Kevin Cross, and Pete Petersen in voting to approve Bird. However, Lafrance, Vice Chair Chris Constant, and Assembly members Kameron Perez-Verdia, Felix Rivera, Meg Zaletel, Forrest Dunbar, Austin Quinn-Davidson and Daniel Volland all voted against confirming Bird.

Bird says on his website that he grew up on the Kenai Peninsula and attended law school in Florida, before returning to Anchorage where he is in practice with Wayne Ross and Ed Miner. Bird’s father Bob Bird is the head of the Alaska Independence Party and hosts a talk radio program on KSRM in Kenai.

According to Bird’s resume included in the Assembly agenda, he has worked at the Law Office of Mario L. Bird in Anchorage since 2019 after working as a photographer, a teacher and a law clerk.