On Tuesday, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly voted down an ordinance that would have repealed the invocation policy as it currently stands. The final vote was seven to two against, with only Assembly President Kelly Cooper and Assembly Member Willy Dunne in favor of passing it.
Overall, public testimony on the invocation policy lasted for more than an hour. Here is a sampling of some of the comments heard at the meeting:
Near the midpoint of the meeting, Assembly Member Jill Schaefer proposed an amendment to replace the invocation with a moment of silence. She said she got the idea from speaking with her constituents, who were divided on the issue.
“I do see this as a compromise. The invocation is not abolished and I think right now, more than ever, getting rid of the divisiveness is really needed in our community," said Schaefer. "I think going back to your constituents as assembly members and saying, ‘Hey, I had an opportunity to keep the invocation and move on with business and get our jobs done,’ it would be hard to justify why you didn’t do that and we went ahead with the lawsuit."
She said she hoped a moment of silence would also satisfy those who support having an invocation, but don’t support the current policy, which has been described as exclusionary. That amendment failed six to three, with Schaefer, Dunne, and Cooper in favor.