The American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska and the City of Homer have struck a deal following a recent court battle over a recall effort. The ACLU represented Homer City Council members Donna Aderhold, Catriona Reynolds and David Lewis, all subjects of the recall, in a lawsuit to halt the election.
As part of the deal, the city will not seek repayment of legal fees spent defending itself, and the ACLU did not appeal the case to a higher court in exchange.
ACLU spokesman Casey Reynolds said both parties began working out the deal within a couple of days of Superior Court Judge Erin Marston’s ruling in favor of the city. Reynolds explained it would have been unfair to appeal the case with just three weeks until the special election.
“If we got the decision saying this is inappropriate, the election wouldn’t go forward and we would all know that, but if we continued with the legal battle, it would be uncertain,” Reynolds said. “That would certainly be unfair to the citizens of Homer to not know whether it was going to happen or not.”
In the case, the ACLU argued legal grounds listed in the recall petition weren’t sufficient and the recall election infringed on the council members’ right to freedom of speech. Judge Marston ruled the recall process was followed properly.
City Attorney Eric Sanders hasn’t billed the city for his time in court yet. He plans to send out an invoice in the coming weeks. The ACLU is covering the legal costs for the council members.
Sanders advised the city and council members to refrain from speaking about the deal until after the election.
Voters headed to the polls Tuesday. Unofficial results are too close to call, but regular voters narrowly cast their ballots in favor of the three council members retaining their seats. Absentee votes will be counted and the vote certified Friday.