Anchorage City Clerk Barbara Jones accused Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration of improperly influencing an upcoming special recall election with a message banner on the city’s website.
Monday, Jones written to Demboski and others, claiming that the message “is of great concern” because it was posted without notifying the clerks, who are in charge of the elections.
“Because this banner was not authorized by the city clerk’s office, it appears to be conduct in violation of state law and a violation of APOC,” Jones wrote, referring to the state’s campaign finance regulator.
Municipal Director Amy Demboski, answer Tuesday, said the charge is “salacious, unfounded, devoid of logic or common sense, and without basis in municipal code or the Anchorage charter.”
Anchorage Assembly member Meg Zaletel, who represents Midtown, is on the ballot next month, the target of a recall campaign organized by Russell Biggs, a local anesthesiologist who claims he violated an order to city’s COVID-19 emergency in the summer of 2020 when she participated in an Assembly Meeting with more than 15 people in person.
[Anchorage Assembly deliberation of proposed mask mandate marked by audience outbursts]
The dispute between the principal and the clerk arises as the campaign for the special recall election gains momentum. A national union got involved by donating $ 70,000 to an anti-recall group – more than the combined amount raised by both sides of the special election.
Voters in the Anchorage Covenant District of Zaletel will receive ballots in the mail in October. If a majority of votes is in favor of his dismissal, the Assembly will appoint a replacement. This person would be subject to election in the spring. If Zaletel defeats the recall, she will be on the ballot again in the spring of 2022, when her term expires.
Biggs mounted a similar recall campaign against Felix Rivera, an Anchorage Coven, who won a vote held earlier this year.
Website election banner leads to clash between clerk and city manager
Last week, the Anchorage municipal website added a yellow banner reading “Special elections coming up in District 4. Mail-in ballots are due on October 26.” Click for more information.”
By clicking on the banner, the user accesses the clerk’s election website. The website hosts information about the special elections.
Jones said in his message to city officials that historically the city has not promoted other elections in the same way, and doing so “is clearly intended to influence this election.”
Zaletel, along with the majority of the rest of the assembly, clashed with Mayor Bronson over various issues, including the city’s response to COVID-19.
Corey Allen Young, spokesperson for the mayor’s office, said the banner is a “routine administrative function of government,” and city governments have historically been responsible for the design and maintenance of the city’s website. .
âDirecting people to the clerk’s information does not interfere with, ‘conduct’ or ‘oversee’ an election, nor does it use municipal resources to attempt to influence an election in any way,â a- he declared.
Anti-recall group receives donation of $ 70,000
Unite Here, a union representing hotel, restaurant and casino workers across the United States, donated $ 70,000 to an anti-recall group last week, public records show.
The gift is unusual. Local union branches frequently get involved in state and local politics, but their national parent organizations rarely donate to causes below the state level, according to records kept by the Alaska Public Offices Commission, which regulates campaign donations in Alaska.
Marvin Jones is president of Local 878, which represents approximately 1,400 hotel, restaurant and kitchen workers in Alaska, including approximately 900 in Anchorage. He had put pressure on his union’s parent organization to get involved in the race.
An Unite Here employee did not return a phone call for comment, but Jones said COVID-19 is a key issue for members of his union. Zaletel has backed mandates to slow the spread of COVID-19, including a mask measure debated this week.
“I feel like the Assembly really supported us and was there for – not just those in the hospitality industry – those in Anchorage, to protect us,” he said.
Jones said members of the current assembly used to support measures that protect workers.
Local 878 is in a 13-year-old dispute with Columbia Sussex, owners of five major Anchorage hotels, including the Marriott and the Hilton.
During the mayoral campaign, Columbia Sussex donated $ 60,000 to a third party group supporting Bronson.
Jones said the purpose of supporting Zaletel is not to seek a favor for the union, “but more to continue this (assembly) group that is out there.” These are just people I know who are fighting for the people of our industry and for the citizens of Anchorage. “
The Unite Here donation went to Stand Up for Meg Zaletel, a third party group separate from Zaletel’s own campaign. Campaign financing recordings show that the group has spent approximately $ 16,000 in campaign management and printing costs so far.
A separate third-party group operated by Alaska AFL-CIO is spending $ 10,000 on Facebook and Google ads supporting Zaletel.
Campaign funding reports show Zaletel’s campaign uses voter information sold by the Alaska Democratic Party, while the pro-recall group uses a Republican fundraising platform and uses a list voters from a third-party campaign group that supported Bronson’s election earlier this year.
More than a third of the money for the recall campaign came from Rosemary and William Borchardt, owners of Arctic Office Products.