Homer City Council members survive recall effort

Jun 19, 2017

Homer's canvas board counts absentee ballots in recall election.
Credit Aaron Bolton, KBBI News

Three Homer City Council members subject of a highly contentious recall effort will retain their seats. The political battle led to a court case with the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska and two political groups have formed around the issue.

Council members David Lewis, Catriona Reynolds and Donna Aderhold all enjoyed double digit wins as the official results came in Friday.

As the canvas board counted hundreds of absentee ballots Friday afternoon, several Heartbeat of Homer supporters in the audience eagerly awaited the results. The pro-recall political action committee’s spokeswoman, Sarah Vance, sat quietly as the stacks of ballots were counted.

The three council members narrowly eked out a win Tuesday in the regular vote and needed a strong showing from absentee voters. City Clerk Mellissa Jacobsen read the results for the record and those in attendance.

Aderhold and Lewis were both favored by 57 percent of voters and Reynolds came away with 56 percent of the vote. Vance and her supporters were noticeably disappointed as they walked out of City Hall.

“Of course we are disappointed in the outcome,” Vance said. “We feel that they definitely were dishonest in their dealings over the issues, but the people have spoken and we’ll proceed from here.”

The three council members found themselves subjects of the recall effort this spring. Petitioners took issue with two resolutions they crafted and sponsored, namely an inclusivity resolution.

Petitioners argue it was the council members’ intent to make Homer a sanctuary city, damaging the tourism industry. They also claim their actions were misconduct in office.  

The council members all had one word for the results, vindicated. On Friday evening, Homer Citizens Against the Recall gathered in the very place the inclusivity resolution began, Homer resident Hal Spence’s living room.

Council member Reynolds gave an impromptu speech to supporters.

“There hasn’t been anything I could do about any of this for a long time, but knowing that you were all working to show the recall was not valid, I think we did that today with the results,” Reynolds said in Spence’s living room. “We did it Tuesday with the results.”

Lewis and Reynolds both say they’re happy the special election is over. However, Lewis notes the division created by it will not dissipate overnight.

“You know I went back and read some of the articles, and we’ve been called Marxists and all sorts of stuff,” Lewis said. “That doesn’t go away.”

Aderhold, an avid writer and runner, adds she is particularly excited to have time in her personal life.

Homer Citizens Against the Recall Chairman Ron Keffer explained the one-issue political action committee will be dissolved. But, Keffer notes its progressively minded supporters will remain a group.

“Because we don’t want to get ourselves into a position in which we have not been active enough and things happen and we have to play catchup,” he explained. “We want to be an active part constantly at this point.”

The Homer City Council held a special meeting Monday to certify the results.

Reynolds and Lewis’ terms are up in October. Lewis, a three-term councilman, said he decided not to run prior to the recall effort. Reynolds noted the recall, as well as other obligations, pushed her away from running for reelection. Aderhold, whose term expires in 2018, said it's too early to make that choice.

However, all is not said and done. Heartbeat of Homer is seeking reimbursement for its legal fees from the council members.

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