The process of suppressing the official public debate will continue next week
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) – Public comment has continued over a controversial order introduced late in the Anchorage Assembly Special Meeting Wednesday evening. The ordinance was deferred to the June 7 assembly meeting by a vote of 8 to 3.
If passed, the proposed order establish a formal process for removing a mayor for breach of public trust.
On June 1, the Assembly began hearing public testimony to establish the process for removing a public official included in AO 2022-60. The proposal was presented by the Vice-President of the Assembly, Christopher Constant. In recent months, Constant and other Assembly members have expressed frustration with the mayor’s office for not following the Assembly’s approved budget, among other issues.
“Over the past few months, we’ve seen scenarios where certain sections of code are simply ignored by the administration,” Constant said. “There are some pretty shocking procedures that have been put in place. Really for me, the straw that broke the camel’s back was when the mayor did not implement our budget which passed but instead supplemented his own budget.
As the meeting draws to a close at 10 p.m., Assembly Member Jamie Allard moved to postpone the Order indefinitely, which will appear with the Order in the Continuing Items section of the Agenda on June 7.
After Assemblyman Kameron Perez-Verdia’s motion to continue the discussion on June 7 passed, Allard moved to extend the meeting until 11 p.m. This motion required a super-majority and failed 7-3 with Meg Zaletel, Forrest Dunbar and Pete Petersen voting against the motion to extend the sitting.
“I really appreciate the testimony tonight,” Perez-Verdia said. “We have received a lot of new information that I think this body needs to process. Secondly, the public has raised a number of new questions that we need to get answers to — both from this body and from the legal services — so I think it’s worth taking a bit more time before the debate. I think there clearly needs to be a strong debate about this, and I think we need time to review the information and then have a thorough discussion about the merits of this.
Some Anchorage residents like Dustin Sherman have expressed the view that they believe the Assembly is trying to remove Mayor Dave Bronson from office.
“We have elections, they have consequences. You told us yourselves,” Sherman said. “You, this Assembly, have confirmed this election. There are already ways that the public knows about when it comes to removing a public official. Most important are the reminders. But you don’t want to wait for that because there’s a good chance it will fail.
At Wednesday’s meeting, public witnesses overwhelmingly opposed the order. Constant has repeatedly denied such claims.
“I would like people to understand that there is no intention to implement this section of the code once passed. It is simply an opportunity to reboot and help the mayor understand that there is separation of powers here and that he has a responsibility to enact the code and follow the charter,” Constant said.
Six members of the Assembly must agree for an ordinance to be passed. The proposed ordinance contains 13 provisions for which a mayor can be removed from office. Constant said it was specifically written in the order that a dismissal cannot occur for “minor issues.”
The Alaska news source reached out to Mayor Bronson for comment Wednesday afternoon. Through his office, he declined to make a statement. A spokesperson for Bronson, however, directed the Alaska news source to the mayor’s social media accounts to respond. The, bronson said that the ordinance would give the Assembly “broad grounds” for impeachment, and he wants to keep the separation of powers intact.
This article has been updated with additional information.
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