Wasilla mayor survives no-confidence vote

Rindi White

WASILLA -- A vote of no confidence in Wasilla Mayor Dianne Keller failed to pass at Monday's City Council meeting.

After the vote, council members and the mayor agreed it was time to bury the hatchet, but only after a few more verbal jabs were exchanged.

Councilman Steven Menard suggested the no-confidence vote for Keller last month but pulled the measure when the council voted to ask the mayor to resign. The resignation vote passed 4-2 but Keller refused to step down.

Menard on July 15 said he hoped the no-confidence measure would spur Keller to act. His proposal Monday failed, with Councilmen Kristofer Larson and Marty Metiva opposed. Menard and Councilwomen Stephanie Massie and Dianne Woodruff voted in favor but city law requires four votes for passage. Councilman Doug Holler was absent.

The vote was just the latest action in a flurry of activity surrounding development of a shopping mall in Wasilla.

The City Council paid for an investigation into Keller and other city employees' interactions with developer Meritage Development Group LLC, which wants to build two shopping centers on the Parks Highway.

The investigation concluded in June that Keller and her staff gave Meritage an unfair advantage over nearby businesses and they may have committed attempted coercion, a misdemeanor crime.

The state Office of Special Prosecutions is reviewing the report.

Keller and city employees have denied they did wrong by assisting Meritage in a development that will be beneficial to the city.

Because Keller has not been convicted of a crime or otherwise violated the duties of her office, council votes about whether she should stay in office are only advisory.

Keller said she wasn't taking their advice.

"I have more experience in my 12 years (on the council and as mayor) than all of your years combined," Keller said in her closing comments.

She said she had received many phone calls from supporters who told her she was in the right. She chided the council, made up solely of first-term members, accusing them of using the issue to grandstand and better their chances for successful future elections.

"I have no intention of resigning. The public who elected me has the utmost confidence in me and I want them to know I appreciate that," she said.

"I received an awful lot of calls on the other side of the ones Madam Mayor reports having received," Woodruff shot back.

"And essentially what they've said to me is that this should have never happened, and we're in the right in saying this should never happen again. And I'm a little amazed with all your experience that you didn't know better."

"I would like this to be the end of it for me, and I would like it to be the end of it for you," she added.

Menard said he wouldn't bring the no-confidence measure forward again unless other council members asked him to.

Metiva said he wants the council to make clearer rules regarding how the economic development office should interact with prospective businesses.

Also on Monday, council members began reviewing proposed ethics regulations that it is considering adopting.

Find Daily News reporter Rindi White online at adn.com/contact/rwhite or call 352-6709.