Another bid to end Anchorage mayor’s emergency powers fails

Protesters gather outside of Anchorage Assembly Chambers on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, holding flags and signs.
Protesters gather outside of Anchorage Assembly Chambers on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. Some called for an end to the mayor’s emergency powers, some for his resignation and others for an end to coronavirus-related restrictions. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media) 

A motion to end the emergency powers of Anchorage acting mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson failed at an Assembly meeting Wednesday night. Assemblywoman Jamie Allard, citing a single-day drop in COVID-19 cases in the municipality this week, said residents should be able to “make decisions for themselves” when it comes to pandemic precautions. 

This comes in the middle of a record spike in coronavirus cases for Anchorage and an urgent plea from Quinn-Davidson and city health experts to take masking and social distancing seriously. 

Quinn-Davidson inherited emergency powers of the mayor’s office that the Assembly authorized after Ethan Berkowitz resigned last month. The authorization, which expires at the end of this month, allows the administration to pass emergency orders in response to the pandemic, though the Assembly retains the power to veto them. 

Allard has consistently voted against extensions of the mayor’s emergency powers and routinely proposes resolutions to end them.

Assemblywoman Meg Zaletel called the motion to end emergency powers “reckless,” given the spike, and encouraged the Assembly to examine the authorization at a public hearing planned later this month. Assemblywoman Crystal Kennedy said she thought it was important to continue the conversation around emergency powers, but didn’t see much harm in terminating them early. Some members, including Kennedy, have supported the idea that the municipality should move from short emergency power extensions to find other solutions to address the pandemic.

Ultimately, Allard’s motion was postponed indefinitely with a vote of 8 to 2, with only Kennedy and Allard voting against.