Former Houston Deputy Mayor offers more insight on sudden resignations

A new mayor and Deputy Mayor won’t be elected until vacant seats are filled
New Mayor and Deputy Mayor can’t be elected until vacant seats are filled
Published: Oct. 11, 2022 at 6:29 PM AKDT
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HOUSTON, Alaska (KTUU) - After three city officials tendered their resignations on Friday, the Houston City Council has been scrambling to keep the city operating. Former Mayor Virgie Thompson, former Deputy Mayor Lance Wilson, and the city’s treasurer Sally Schug all walked away from their positions after unofficial results of the Oct. 4 Regular City Election were announced.

Results of the election seated Mike Adams, Sandy McDonald, and David Childs to the city council. Adams was reelected to Council Seat G, while Childs and McDonald beat out Gina Jorgensen and Paul Stout for council seats E and F.

At Monday’s special city council meeting, the members saw a large turnout of community members to witness the swearing-in ceremony, but the seats are far from full. Council members interviewed potential candidates to fill Council Seat G — which was already vacant prior to Thompson and Wilson’s resignations. Their departure from the city council left seats A and D open.

It was not immediately clear why the city officials abruptly turned in their letters of resignation, but incoming member McDonald said that she had heard rumblings.

“There was lots of rumors before the — even during the campaigning time — that if I was elected that the mayor and the deputy mayor would resign,” McDonald said in an interview after the meeting.

Since the announcement on Friday, former Mayor Thompson has not made a comment on the matter, however Former Deputy Mayor Lance Wilson sent a statement to Alaska’s News Source on Tuesday afternoon.

“After working with/for the City and Houston residents for 15 years (1 year on a sales tax advisory committee prior to being elected in 2008), I no longer have the energy or patience to confront constant controversy,” Wilson wrote. “Given the statements of several of the newly elected councilmembers and their Facebook commando supporters regarding getting rid of the “Old Guard,” knowing the personalities of several of those on the Council, and me being in a very weak minority position would mean constant conflict and the inability to be effective. It was time to go. The “Old Guard” has retired, and after a time of blaming us for all of their difficulties, the new leadership and their supporters will hopefully accept their victory and responsibility and move on.”

Council member Adams — who was selected as the city’s chairperson until a new mayor is established — said Monday that while the city is struggling with the resignations, the council will continue to work diligently to remedy the setback.

“Good things are going to happen, I do believe that,” Adams said. “I think we’re very energized. The people expect a lot of us and I hope that we meet their expectations.”

Because Houston is a second-class city, the new mayor and deputy mayor will be elected by a vote of the city council members once all vacant seats are filled. The city council will select a new member to serve for council seat B at Thursday’s regular council meeting on Oct. 13. An election for mayor and deputy mayor will occur after the council elects members for seats A and D at the next special city council meeting on Monday, Oct. 17.