Hall has votes to stay as Assembly chair, colleague says

Nathaniel Herz

A group of Anchorage Assembly members is claiming it has the votes to keep Ernie Hall as the chair of the 11-member body.

Hall, who represents West Anchorage, has been chair for two years. Unless Friday's tally of uncounted absentee and early votes changes the outcome of a pair of closely contested Assembly races, Hall will keep his seat, according to Assemblyman Bill Starr, who represents Eagle River and Chugiak.

Starr added that Tim Steele, who also represents West Anchorage, is expected to be elected the Assembly's vice chair.

"I don't think it's going to change," Starr said.

A simple majority is required to elect an Assembly chair, and a vote is scheduled for Tuesday after this month's election results are certified and members take their oaths of office.

Hall said he had not solicited votes, but added that he was "absolutely" willing to stay Assembly chair, and was "humbled that maybe there's people that would really like to see me continue."

The chair's job does not grant extra voting powers to the member that holds it; responsibilities include running the body's bi-weekly meetings.

This year's vote for chair comes with special importance, however, because Mayor Dan Sullivan is running for statewide office. If Sullivan is elected in November, the chair of the Assembly would be elevated to interim mayor.

That's a post that Hall said he would serve in, though there's the potential for the Assembly to reorganize and choose a new chair before an interim mayor is installed.

Reach Nathaniel Herz at nherz@adn.com or 257-4311.