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Anchorage Assembly pushes back date on Bronson’s proposal to make municipal clerk an elected position

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 5:50 PM AKST|Updated: Jan. 12, 2022 at 6:36 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Members of the Anchorage Assembly will take up a proposal from Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration to make the municipal clerk an elected position, rather than an appointed one, later this fall after pushing back the date of its public hearing.

In December, Bronson sent a proposal to the assembly requesting that the municipal clerk become an elected position, and to let the voters decide whether or not to make that change to city charter on the upcoming April election ballot. Currently, that position is an appointed one and is served by Municipal Clerk Barbara Jones.

The ordinance was introduced during Tuesday night’s assembly meeting. As it was being introduced, assembly member Kameron Perez-Verdia set the date for this measure’s public hearing for Aug. 23.

On Wednesday, Perez-Verdia said pushing the public hearing for the ordinance back will give the assembly and Bronson’s administration more time to work through the legislative process.

“What it would require is, that prior to that August public hearing, that we do a work session and we discuss it more in detail,” Perez Verdia said. “We allow the administration to come forward and have their sort of comments about why they want to do this, we create more opportunity for the public to share their thoughts on it. So it feels like we need more time to do this right.”

Bronson, though, is urging the assembly not to delay this vote. He says making the clerk an elected position will improve transparency, create accountability, and increase trust in the democratic process and that Anchorage voters should have a say in who does this job.

“I urge the Assembly to let Anchorage voters have their say now on this issue,” Bronson said in a statement Wednesday. “Delaying it is an obvious attempt by the Anchorage Assembly to shut out the residents of Anchorage from being part of the democratic process by voting on this position.”

At the time that Bronson first introduced the proposal, several members of the assembly responded with skepticism, with one saying it could potentially politicize the municipal clerk’s position, which is currently neutral.

“I want to be open to it and learn about it, but at this point it doesn’t seem like it’s a necessary move,” Perez-Verdia said on Wednesday. “I think we have a pretty great clerk and our elections process is working really well, and so unless there’s something that needs to change, I’m not sure why we would change it.”

Assembly member Jamie Allard attempted on Tuesday night to get this ordinance on the assembly’s Jan. 19 special meeting agenda, but that wasn’t possible because it had already been set for Aug. 23.

“While I understand time is short for getting something on the ballot, it’s clear the majority of the Assembly doesn’t want to relinquish control to the voters over this position,” Allard said in a statement on Wednesday.

“It seems clear that even though the assembly set a hearing for August, they will probably delay it or table it indefinitely, so a voter petition is probably the only way this will get on the ballot,” she continued.

Perez-Verdia said since they will be taking the ordinance up again on Aug. 23, it could possibly be on the ballot for the next election cycle in 2023 if it gets approved by the assembly.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with comment from Assembly member Jamie Allard.

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