Home Politics Community Politics Homer Recall Process Moves Forward, Petitioners Have Booklets In Anchor Point

Homer Recall Process Moves Forward, Petitioners Have Booklets In Anchor Point

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Photo by Paul Swansen, Creative Commons Licensing.

Originally published at Alaska Progressive, republished with permission.

On Friday, March 31st, 2017 recall petitioners in Homer, Alaska, submitted roughly 18 out of 21 issued booklets to the city clerk’s office for certification.

Petitioners are seeking to recall council members Donna Aderhold, David Lewis, and Catriona Reynolds primarily for sponsoring an inclusivity resolution.

The inclusivity resolution never passed introduction and was voted down 5 to 1 by city council members after hours of public testimony in opposition.

Two of the original sponsors, Aderhold and Lewis, both cast a “no” vote at the city council meeting. However, they are still being targeted by the recall petitioners and are being accused of “misconduct while in office” amongst other things.

Catriona Reynolds cast the single “yes” vote during the council meeting after a very heartfelt testimony on why she supported it with mentions of her recognition of LGBTQ rights and visible discrimination towards the LGBTQ community in Homer.

Public Records Requests

Recall petitioners also obtained a public records request on council member emails dating from February 20th, 2017, through March 6th, 2017. You can see the whole email chain here.

The Homer News reported that Larry Zuccaro, a co-sponsor of the recall petition, wrote a letter to the Homer News, encouraging members of the community to submit a records request for council members’ email correspondence.

Many members of the community did so, including myself.

“This is where the truth will be found for all to see,” Zuccaro wrote. “I think once everyone sees (this) email correspondence, it will be clear to all that nothing short of a recall process would be acceptable.”

[SOURCE: Michael Armstrong, Homer News.]

In another blog article, I shared my perspective on these emails and pointed out how the mayor and council members worked against the sponsors of the inclusivity resolution and may have triggered or condoned recall efforts.

That Whole Anchor Point Thing…

As I mentioned above, only 18 out of 21 booklets came back, and I believe the three missing signature booklets are more than likely located at Smokin, an Anchor Point tobacco shop located roughly 15 miles outside of Homer City Limits.

On April 3, I was informed by a friend that they were collecting signatures at Smokin on Saturday, April 1, 2017, and that so far they had almost three full booklets.

Keep in mind, this is one day after petitioners were informed by the city clerk not to collect any more signatures.

I decided to follow up and called Smokin on Monday, April 3, and asked if I could come down and sign the petition. I was told “Yes,” by an unknown employee, maybe the owner, I don’t know for sure.

I would love it if someone could substantiate my claim. Call them. Ask if you can come sign the recall petition (907-226-2240).

Odd. Truly. Outrageous? Out of bounds? It will take some time for us to find out.

For now, let’s explore where we go from here.

What Happens Next?

We are now at the certification phase, so let’s dive right into Alaska State Law, AS 29.26.290 to get a better grasp of how the city clerk will handle the next steps.

Sec. 29.26.290. Sufficiency of petition.

(a) The copies of a recall petition shall be assembled and filed as a single instrument. A petition may not be filed within 180 days before the end of the term of office of the official sought to be recalled. Within 10 days after the date a petition is filed, the municipal clerk shall
(1) certify on the petition whether it is sufficient; and
(2) if the petition is insufficient, identify the insufficiency and notify the contact person by certified mail.

(b) A petition that is insufficient may be supplemented with additional signatures obtained and filed before the 11th day after the date on which the petition is rejected if
(1) the petition contains an adequate number of signatures, counting both valid and invalid signatures; and
(2) the supplementary petition is filed more than 180 days before the end of the term of office of the official sought to be recalled.

(c) A petition that is insufficient shall be rejected and filed as a public record unless it is supplemented under (b) of this section. Within 10 days after the supplementary filing the clerk shall recertify the petition. If it is still insufficient, the petition is rejected and filed as a public record.

March 31, 2017, was the date that the recall petition and booklets were filed as “one single instrument.” The city clerk has 10 days, which is April 9 or 10, to certify the petition and ensure that petitioners have 373 valid signatures.

All signatures must be from registered voters within the city limits of Homer; districts 31-350 and 31-360.

If the clerk deems that they do not have enough valid signatures, petitioners will be notified via certified mail and will be issued new booklets.

They will have 11 days to collect the signature deficit which in this case would be on or around April 21st, 2017.

If they do collect enough signatures in this first round, or through another round of supplemental signatures, a special election funded by taxpayers will be set by city council sometime in June or July, potentially.

Potential Problems

One of the concerns with petitioners collecting signatures in Anchor Point is that they are clearly out of bounds collecting signatures. I mean, why collect signatures in Anchor Point? It makes no sense at all.

In addition, we don’t even know if the person collecting signatures out there is a sponsor of the petition.

You have to be a resident of the city to sponsor or co-sponsor a petition and, I suppose, if the person collecting signatures out there is a city resident and a sponsor, fine, so be it. But if they are not, there are major issues with this.

The Homer community also needs to make sure that these three booklets never get recorded as valid. They are being collected in an inappropriate time period.

Another potential problem is the timing of our upcoming general election in October. Catriona Reynolds and David Lewis’s terms are up in early October.

You can’t file a recall petition or submit supplemental signatures to recall an elected official within 180 days of their term expiring.

If we go with tradition and their term expires on the 4 or 7 of October, and petitioners submit signatures within that 180 day timeline (I am guessing anything past April 7 or at the latest, April 10), those signatures should be rejected under Alaska State Law and the petition deemed invalid.

(a) …A petition may not be filed within 180 days before the end of the term of office of the official sought to be recalled.

(2) the supplementary petition is filed more than 180 days before the end of the term of office of the official sought to be recalled.

This won’t take Donna Aderhold off the hook, as her term expires in October, 2018.

In addition, if the city moves forward and allows this nonsense to go forward, the city is at risk of lawsuit for violation of council members’ First Amendment right to free speech.

Those are just some of the more visible problems that we may encounter.

There may be more to follow, I am still expecting a new records request on April 18, 2017.

Keep your eyes peeled folks and be sure to attend the next few council meetings with more hearts!