City to issue recall petitions

Editor’s note: This article has been changed to clarify that Homer City Council members Donna Aderhold, David Lewis and Catriona Reynolds sponsored the introduction of Resolution 17-019, but only Reynolds voted for the resolution.

Homer City Clerk Jo Johnson on Friday, March 10, issued a certificate allowing an application seeking to recall Homer City Council members Donna Aderhold, David Lewis and Catriona Reynolds to go forward.

Johnson said Monday that the clerk’s office will have petition signature booklets for each council member prepared later this week.

The recall petitioners have 60 days from the issuance of the petition to gather 373 signatures, or 25 percent of the 1,490 people who voted in the last city election. The recall election cannot be held within 75 days of the Oct. 3 regular election. However, because Lewis and Reynolds are up for re-election in October, under city code a petition must be received within 180 days, or April 11, of the end of the elected official’s term.

The recall group alleges that “Aderhold, Lewis and Reynolds are each proven unfit for office, as evident by their individual efforts in preparation of Resolution 16-121 and 17-109, the text of which stands in clear and obvious violation of Homer City Code Title 1.” Title 1 prohibits political activity by city officials while on duty, defined as support for a political candidate or ballot proposition.

That allegation refers to the council members’ support of 16-121, supporting the Standing Rock Lakota tribe and opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline, and 17-019, “A resolution of the City Council of Homer, Alaska, Stating That the City of Homer Adheres to the Principle of Inclusion, and Herein Committing This City to Resisting Efforts to Divide This Community With Regard to Race, Religion, Ethnicity, Gender, National Origin, Physical Capabilities, or Sexual Orientation, Regardless of Those Efforts, Including From Local, State or Federal Agencies.” Aderhold, Lewis and Reynolds voted for Resolution 16-21, with Mayor Bryan Zak breaking a tie vote to pass it. The three council members sponsored Resolution 17-019 on introduction, but only Reynolds voted for it. The resoluton failed 5-1.

City Attorney Holly Wells last Thursday, March 9, also wrote a memorandum, 17-037, advising the clerk to go ahead with issuing the recall petitions. Cities should interpret recall applications liberally, Wells advised. However, the grounds cited in the recall application “exposes the City to constitutional challenges based upon protections afforded speech under the Alaska and the United States Constitutions,” she wrote.

Wells also noted “the recall process is mired in confusion.” Once the technical requirements are met, Wells wrote that “the City Clerk then has a difficult task in deciding whether to certify the Recall Petition at issue given the nature of the speech of the Council members that are subject to recall.”

Wells will attend the council meeting starting at 6 p.m. today in the Cowles Council Chambers, Homer City Hall. The meeting is broadcast on KBBI Public Radio, AM 890. Memorandum 17-037 is available online at http://www.cityofhomer-ak.gov/sites/default/files/fileattachments/memo/19541/memo_17-037_recall.pdf.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.

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