Stroozas asks for reconsideration on recall reform

A Homer City Council member has second thoughts on a resolution proposing Legislative changes to state recall statutes — even though the resolution passed without objection on the consent agenda and without public comment or dissent.

At Monday’s council meeting, the council considered without debate Resolution 17-078, a resolution to ask the Alaska Legislature to “revisit the standard for recalling municipal officials.” A companion memorandum, 17-114, also on the consent agenda, got council approval to submit a similar request to the Alaska Municipal League seeking its support at its winter conference to ask the Legislature to change the recall process. Council members Donna Aderhold and Heath Smith sponsored both actions.

On Tuesday morning council member Tom Stroozas asked for reconsideration for the resolution and memorandum. A council member on the prevailing side — in this case, any council member — can ask for reconsideration within 48 hours of the meeting.

The reconsideration will be addressed at the start of the next council meeting on Sept. 11. If a motion to reconsider passes, it then comes up later under pending business and can be amended, passed or defeated.

“I think this is an issue that Homer doesn’t need to get involved in at the Legislative level,” Stroozas said.

Stroozas said that during the Committee of the Whole, the meeting before the regular meeting when council discusses issues regarding the agenda, he had thought about pulling the resolution and memo from the consent agenda, but said or did nothing.

“A lot of times, you’ll sit in a room, you’ll read something and go along with it, and after you’ve had time to digest things, you go, ‘I think we need some more time to think about this more,’” Stroozas said in a phone interview on Wednesday.

Resolution 17-078 said that standards for what consitutes an action justifying recall “are not clearly defined in the Alaska Statutes, leading to a wide range of interpretations.”

Aderhold and council members David Lewis and Catriona Reynolds, faced a recall challenge in June, but in tallies of 56 and 57 percent, voters rejected the recall. Recall organizers claimed the council members were unfit for office and they committed misconduct in office because they sponsored Resolution 17-019, the so called “inclusivity” resolution that opponents said advocated making Homer a sanctuary city.

The council members sued to stop the recall, asserting the grounds violated their Consitutional protection of free speech. Superior Court Judge Erin Marston rejected that argument, ruling that the recall provisions should be liberally construed and that it was up to the voters to decide the legitimacy of allegations.

Stroozas said that’s why on reconsideration he doesn’t think the recall statutes need to be changed.

“It’s a matter of interpretation, but ultimately it’s up to the voters to decide,” he said.

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