There are still remnants of Homer’s contentious recall election on display at Homer City Council meetings. The council approved two resolutions asking Alaska’s Legislature to revisit the state statute for recalling municipal officials without controversy in late August, but each were brought up for reconsideration on Monday.
Both are companion measures, one coming directly from the council and the other is to be sent to the Alaska Municipal League for approval. Council member Tom Stroozas pulled both resolutions the morning after they were approved.
On Monday, the council declined to revisit both measures. Council member Donna Aderhold, co-sponsor of the resolutions and one of three council members that faced June’s recall election, asked Stroozas why he didn’t speak up initially.
“Fair question. I sort of expected somebody else to perhaps bring it up and no one did, and we moved rather quickly,” he replied. “It was too late at that point because it had been adopted by the consent agenda.”
Stroozas also noted he thought the current system worked “just fine.”
This comes about three months after the recall effort against council members Aderhold, Catriona Reynolds and David Lewis failed. Recall petitioners in Homer claimed the three council members committed misconduct in office after drafting and sponsoring two resolutions regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline and inclusivity for minority populations.
Municipal officials in Alaska can be recalled for misconduct, incompetence or failure to perform their duties. The law vaguely defines misconduct and notes its language should be “liberally construed.”
There were a handful of community members who commented on the issue, mostly in support of further defining the murky statute.
Sarah Vance, city council candidate and the spokesperson for a pro-recall group, was the only one oppose the resolutions. Vance said the current law allows the community to set the standard.
“If we shackle the voice of the people, then what do we have left? We have tyranny, we have a monarchy, and that’s not what we want,” Vance said. “We want to be able to listen to the voice of the people even if it’s difficult sometimes.”
Chairman of the anti-recall group Ron Keffer contrasted Vance’s comments. He said that only serious matters should rise to the level of a recall election.
“If a council person is found to have absconded with funds or to have used his or her influence as a council person inappropriately, a recall in entirely appropriate,” Keffer explained.
The resolutions’ co-sponsor, Heath Smith, was the only other council member to comment on the issue, noting that if the Legislature does revisit the statute, the public will have its chance to speak on the matter.