Residents call for recall of city council members
March 9th | Carey Restino
City residents have made good on their promise to try to recall three council members who sponsored the recent "inclusion resolution" with an application submitted to the Homer City Clerk's office on Monday.
The application, which is currently being reviewed by City Clerk Jo Johnson, was submitted by Michael Fell and lists the grounds for misconduct as pertaining to the political activity of City Council members Donna Aderhold, David Lewis and Catriona Reynolds.
Johnson said Tuesday she was reviewing the petition application request with the assistance of the city's legal department and would make public her decision when it was completed.
At issue, according to the application, was the preparation of two resolutions that Fell asserts violate the oath of office council members took when they took their seats on the council. The oath states that council members shall not participate in political activity while on duty.
One of the resolutions in question supported the Standing Rock Lakota Tribe and opposed the Dakota Access Pipeline, and passed with Lewis, Aderhold and Reynolds, as well as Mayor Bryan Zak, voting in favor. The other resolution proved to be far more controversial and called for Homer to support an environment of inclusiveness for all individuals, and "resist efforts to profile vulnerable populations." The resolution drew a huge response from the community, with more than 100 people testifying at last week's Committee of the Whole and council meetings.
The testimony, largely in opposition to the resolution, was partly in response to an early version of the proposed resolution, which included a long list of clauses that opposed policies and efforts by the current U.S. President Donald Trump. That version was edited down, removing the anti-Trump verbage, but those who testified said the intent of the resolution still stood.
The resolution also stated that the city would cooperate with federal agencies in detaining undocumented immigrants when court-issued federal warrants are delivered, a clause that pertained to efforts by some current immigration practices that detained undocumented immigrants without warrants. Some interpreted that clause to be akin to making Homer a "sanctuary city," something they opposed in part because of possible cuts to federal funding for the city.
The resolution was voted down 5-1 with only Reynolds voting in favor.
Reached on the phone Tuesday, Fell said he had no comments beyond the application as written, but at the meeting last week, many commented that the sponsors of the resolution were guilty of asserting their political bias into their roles as council members.
In the rules of being a council member, council members are prohibited from taking an "active part in a political campaign or other political activity when on duty." They are not prohibited from exercising their voting franchise, contributing to a campaign or candidate of their choice, or expressing their political views when not on duty or otherwise conspicuously representing the city."
The application for recall also cited a rule saying that officers who take an oath of office swear to support and defend the constitution of the United States and the State of Alaska.
"Misconduct in office is further claimed by the irreparable damage done by draft resolution 17-019 being made public and widely distributed on social and news media, and publicly promoted as conspicuously drafted by and representing the city of Homer," the application reads. "This action has further caused economic harm and financial loss to the city of Homer."
Listed on the application were 11 additional signatures — Larry Zuccaro, Larri Fancher, Joe Singleton, Jack Niemi, Betty Snow, Jack Packer, Justin Wickstrom, Mark Zeiget, Randall Parret Terry Wilson, Blynn Dahlhamer and Cindy Frazier.
Johnson said if the application is approved, the petitioners would be required to get signatures from 25 percent of the voters who turned out for the last election for each of the city council members. Since 1490 voters voted last fall, 373 signatures would have to be gathered for each of the three council members, she said. If those signatures were certified, then the recall effort would go to the voters in a special election.