Council declines to reconsider resolution addressing recall standards

The Homer City Council has reaffirmed its wish to ask the Alaska Legislature to reevaluate the standards for recalling city officials, an issue that arose after a tense recall election in June that caused divide in the community.

Resolution 17-078, asks the Alaska Legislature to “revisit the standard for recalling municipal officials.” Memorandum 17-114 sought council approval to submit a similar request to the Alaska Municipal League winter conference seeking its support to ask the Legislature to change the recall process. Both were approved on the consent agenda at the council’s Aug. 28 meeting, sponsored by council members Donna Aderhold and Heath Smith.

Council member Tom Stroozas asked for reconsideration for the resolution and memorandum on Aug. 29, the day after the council’s meeting. A council member on the prevailing side of an action can ask for reconsideration within 48 hours of the meeting. In this case this applied to any member of the council.

At the council’s Monday night meeting on Sept. 11, council members voted 4-1 against a motion to reconsider the memorandum, with Stroozas the only yes vote. Council member Catriona Reynolds had an excused absence from the meeting. A motion to reconsider the original resolution failed for lack of getting a second by a council member.

“We’ve heard comments in the audience tonight on this on both sides,” Stroozas said when talking about the reconsideration. “The one comment that stood out with me was the recall statutes perhaps should be more precise. Well, I can’t see how they could be any more precise than they currently are.”

In discussing whether the issues should be reconsidered, Aderhold asked Stroozas why he didn’t come forward earlier.

“This was on the consent agenda in our last meeting,” she said. “It was not raised for discussion either during the committee of the whole or during the meeting, and I’m wondering why you didn’t take action at that time.”

“I sort of expected somebody else perhaps to bring it up, and no one did,” Stroozas answered. “And we moved rather quickly, and it was too late at that point because it had been adopted through the consent agenda. And after the meeting was over two weeks ago, I decided … we do need to have a dialogue on this just to have the dialogue.”

Smith also commented during the discussion, saying that there’s no harm in asking the Legislature to revisit statutes at any time.

“It’s a political process which is open to people, and if any amendment were to ever be suggested, then it would through the public process and anybody and everybody would have an opportunity to speak to being for or against any of those amendments,” he said. “So I don’t think that we should fear the political process. It’s an open, public process.”

Comments from the audience came in on both sides of the argument, with most saying recall statutes in Alaska are some of the most poorly defined. Sarah Vance, council candidate spokesperson for pro-recall group Heartbeat of Homer, commented that the statute ought to be liberally construed.

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