Proposed Anchorage Assembly ordinance would establish a process to remove the mayor

Dave Bronson at an Assembly meeting
Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson at a special Assembly meeting on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)

The Anchorage Assembly is set to consider an ordinance that would establish a process for removing a mayor, if the mayor violates the public’s trust. 

The ordinance follows months of conflict between the largely progressive Assembly and Mayor Dave Bronson, a staunch conservative, since he took office in July. 

Assembly Vice-Chair Chris Constant is the author of the ordinance. He says there’s already language in city code for removing Assembly and School Board members. His ordinance creates that language for the mayor.

“This is exactly the same standard that the Assembly is held to, that was established in 1993,” Constant said. “There’s nothing new here except we’re adding this to the executive branch.”

Currently, the only way to remove a mayor is through a recall election, which Constant says his ordinance wouldn’t interfere with. 

Actions that would constitute a violation of the public trust include perjury, asking a municipal employee to break the law, refusing to follow an enacted ordinance or a “substantial” breach of city law. 

The legal process to remove the mayor would require approval of an accusation document by the Assembly or municipal board of ethics, followed by a legal review conducted by the municipal attorney or a neutral third-party attorney. If the accusations are found to be valid, the mayor would have an attorney defend them against the charges.

Constant says there are several instances during Mayor Dave Bronson’s term where he thinks the mayor violated the code, including firing the chief equity officer without cause and not following the Assembly-passed budget for about four months. However, he says his ordinance wouldn’t retroactively consider those actions. 

“It’s not intending, in fact, to remove the mayor,” Constant said. “It is intending to establish a set of bright line principles for the mayor to be able to understand where the lines are not to cross.”

Officials with the Bronson administration did not respond to several requests for comment. 

The ordinance is set to be introduced during Tuesday night’s Assembly meeting.

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Wesley Early covers municipal politics and Anchorage life for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at wearly@alaskapublic.org.

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