Eledge resigns as deputy director of Anchorage Public Library
Eledge claims resignation is due to personal issues, “major surgery”
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Mayor Dave Bronson’s office announced Tuesday morning the resignation of Judy Eledge as deputy director of the Anchorage Public Library.
In a two-sentence news release, the mayor’s office said Eledge’s last day will be next Monday, May 15.
Despite the announcement that was made earlier in the day, the Anchorage Assembly passed a resolution Tuesday night recommending Eledge resign, citing the need to take a stance on the issue for passing the resolution. A resolution was proposed to redact the resolution to recommend Eledge’s resignation because it had already happened, but after hearing several Assembly members express why they wanted to recommend her resignation anyways, it was voted on and passed 9-2.
Eledge was recently the target of several complaints against her that stemmed from secretly recorded audio tapes that were released to a reporter with the Anchorage Daily News that reportedly disclosed Eledge making remarks against Alaska Native people as being “woke” and “racists.” The audio also revealed discriminatory comments made by Eledge that were directed at LGBTQ+ residents.
“Miss Eledge has a history of making transphobic, homophobic and racist comments,” Assembly member Felix Rivera said. “There was actually an article recently that had recordings of those comments and at that point with physical evidence that these comments exist we couldn’t ignore it any longer.”
It wasn’t the first time Eledge was accused of making derogatory remarks. In January 2021, screenshots surfaced online of social media posts — reportedly from Eledge’s accounts — spanning 2018 through 2021. The posts made inflammatory remarks about Alaska Natives, muslims and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Eledge later confessed to writing some of the posts but said the allegations were a “smear campaign” against her.
In February, former director of the city’s Office of Equal Opportunity Heather MacAlpine filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that her firing in May 2022 was in retaliation for investigating potential improper acts by Eledge.
Her lawsuit says her investigations included looking into the actions and policies of Eledge, which she states led to her firing by Bronson.
Last Friday, the Anchorage Assembly met in an executive session to hear details of a proposed settlement of that lawsuit, as well as one other filed by another fired city employee. The total proposed for the two settlements is $827,500.
“She is costing taxpayer’s money from lawsuits,” Rivera said. “Not only the MacAlpine lawsuits, but there were potential for other discrimination lawsuits just based off of the comments that she had made and the various resignations and firings that we have seen over the last year and a half in the library department.”
The Assembly did schedule a public hearing on the settlements for an Assembly meeting on May 23, but details of the settlement will not be revealed then and the hearing is designed to let the public speak about the broader issues involved. Full details of the settlement will be released when finalized.
Alaska’s News Source obtained a copy of Eledge’s resignation letter to Mayor Bronson through an anonymous source. Her letter cites “personal issues” for her departure, “as I have major surgery scheduled for May 17.”
Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s spokesman Jeff Turner told Alaska’s News Source that Eledge still currently occupies a spot on the Education Commission of the States, a post Dunleavy appointed her to earlier this year.
Eledge’s full letter of resignation is included below.
Dear Mayor Bronson,
Per our discussion several weeks ago, prior to my out-of-state travel, I will be resigning effective May 15, 2023, from my position as Deputy Director of the Anchorage Public Library. My resignation is due to personal issues, as I have major surgery scheduled on May 17, 2023.
I appreciate the opportunity to work with your administration to institute your goals and objectives at our municipal libraries. During my tenure, I am proud to inform you that many of those objectives are well on their way to being realized.
• One of your top priorities was to return the AK Collection to the rotunda of the library, where it had been prior to the 2017 flood. Our Director Virginia McClure recently received the Initial draft plans for the renovated Alaska room, and great progress has been made to begin the subsequent phases to return the AK Collection to its original location.
• As requested, a plan to begin the process of a new downtown library that had been stalled for many years is now back in progress. With the help of a newly formed downtown library committee and the Anchorage Library Foundation, the Old City Hall has been chosen for the downtown library per your request. We were also successful in obtaining additional funding from the AK Legislature, and a historical code analysis has been completed. We recently met with Maintenance and Operations to discuss the next steps.
• Significant efforts have been made to improve safety at the library. After a patron was stabbed in February 2022, we began to ensure our code of conduct was strictly enforced, with the help of concerned employees. A safety committee was formed and recommendations from this committee were instituted. One of the safety guidelines we implemented was the "one bag rule". We implemented a ticket system that allowed individuals coming into the library with luggage, such as travelers or homeless individuals, to lock their items in a secure closet to be retrieved upon leaving the library. We had the opportunity to share this safety enhancement with Chair LaFrance shortly after changes were made.
I am confident that the team at the library will continue to serve you and the city well. While we successfully achieved a lot during my time as Deputy Director, there is much more to accomplish within our library system. Moving forward, I believe that even more positive accomplishments can be achieved if politicizing these positions can be avoided. I wish your administration and the municipal library system all the best.
At Tuesday night’s Assembly meeting, several members said they received multiple emails and calls complaining about Eledge and wanted to vote to recommend her resignation to send a message that they took a stance on the issue.
“The public has asked us for action,” Midtown representative Meg Zaletel. “My email and my voicemail is full of requests for us to say, ‘This is not OK,’ and this resolution is the best we can do. I acknowledge the desire to want to put this ugly set of circumstances behind us, but frankly, the employees who’ve been subjected to terrible remarks and this behavior aren’t going to have it so easy.”
Eagle River representative Kevin Cross was one of the two who voted against passing the resolution asking Eledge to resign.
“I understand that her position was controversial, but when somebody willingly leaves you don’t slam the door behind them,” Cross said. “I think her actions are well documented and I would prefer to move on.”
Eledge and the Municipality of Anchorage did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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