Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson will lead until July

a person stands in a neighborhood street
Anchorage Assembly Chair Austin Quinn-Davidson in her Turnagain neighborhood on October 22. Quinn-Davidson will become the interim mayor of Anchorage, following Mayor Berkowitz’s resignation on October 23. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)

The Anchorage Assembly voted late Wednesday night against holding a special election to fill the mayor’s seat. The new mayor will be chosen at the regular election in April and Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson is expected to continue in her role until July, when the new mayor is seated. 

The Assembly has been considering options to fill the seat since Mayor Ethan Berkowitz resigned after a scandal last month. Quinn-Davidson was elected by the Assembly to fill-in in the interim.

Assemblywomen Jamie Allard and Crystal Kennedy have supported the idea of a special election in order to fill the seat with a representative elected by residents.

“I have been inundated with requests for my constituency to support a special election,” said Allard. “The intent of the charter is not to leave any Assembly seat with the vacancy for a prolonged period of time. “

One of Allard’s concerns is that with Quinn-Davidson’s assembly seat empty, her constituents in West Anchorage may not be well-represented. Quinn-Davidson is expected to return to the Assembly after the new mayor takes office.

Municipal attorneys laid out options for the Assembly to fill the seat last month. One of them is to hold a special election, but the Assembly also has the option to do nothing and let the new mayor be chosen in April. 

Some members said having multiple elections in such a short time would be chaotic for the city. In the event no candidate receives more than 45 percent of the vote — which seems probable, given that 11 people have announced intent to run — each election would be followed by a runoff. That means Anchorage might have seen as many as four elections in five months.

“My belief is that all of the current people running for mayor will run for the special election,” said Assemblyman Kameron Perez-Verdia, who was one of the initial sponsors of the resolution. “There is a high chance that we can have some sort of conflict in terms of timing between the special and the regular election.”

Perez-Verdia added that assembly members are elected with the understanding that they may have to temporarily fill the role of mayor.

The resolution to hold a special election ultimately failed 6 to 3, with only Allard, Kennedy and Assemblyman John Weddleton voting in favor.