Anchorage

Special election set for Oct. 26 in recall of Anchorage Assembly member Zaletel

A special election in the recall of Anchorage Assembly member Meg Zaletel will be held on Oct. 26 for voters in Anchorage’s District 4.

The Assembly on Friday set the election date during a special meeting. The city clerk’s office certified a recall petition against the Midtown Assembly member earlier this week after verifying that recall organizers had gathered enough signatures.

Recall organizer Russell Biggs, a local anesthesiologist, claims that Zaletel violated a city COVID-19 emergency order last summer when she participated in an Assembly meeting with more than 15 people present.

Anchorage Assembly member Felix Rivera, also a Midtown representative, faced a similar recall earlier this year initiated by Biggs over similar claims and prevailed.

Biggs filed two recall petitions against Zaletel in 2020, which the city clerk initially rejected. In May, a Superior Court judge ruled one of the petitions could move ahead, and last week, the Alaska Supreme Court also ruled that the recall petition is valid. Under Alaska law, it is up to the voters, not the courts, to decide whether the allegations in a recall petition are true.

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Biggs has cited several other reasons for the recall petition, such as Zaletel’s actions as part of the more liberal Assembly majority, including the city’s federal COVID-19 relief spending and the Assembly limiting public access to its chambers last summer due to the pandemic.

Rivera at the meeting on Friday said he received emails from multiple people on both sides of the recall issue asking for the election to take place as soon as possible. He said he would prefer the special election to happen sooner than the initially suggested dates in early November, and suggested Oct. 12 or 19.

The city clerk’s office objected, saying it has a contract with Juneau to help run its mail-in election this October. Municipal Clerk Barbara Jones said it is “complicated and riskier to have two elections going at the same time” and that Oct. 26 would be doable.

The Assembly then moved the election date up to Oct. 26 from early November.

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