Anchorage Assembly to continue public testimony on mask ordinance Wednesday

The Anchorage Assembly will hold a seventh day of public testimony on a proposed mask ordinance on Wednesday at 6 p.m., and may extend the meeting to an eighth day on Thursday at 6 p.m.

After six nights of charged and often chaotic meetings on a proposal to require masks in indoor public places, testimony planned for Friday was canceled after the mayor’s office said that Municipal Manager Amy Demboski and Municipal Attorney Patrick Bergt tested positive for COVID-19.

The meetings have been drawn out over multiple weeks as the mayor’s administration and Assembly Member Jamie Allard have worked to stop it from moving forward and hundreds have shown up to testify.

The Assembly will meet Tuesday at 5 p.m. for a regular meeting, and will not take up the mask ordinance at that meeting.

However, it is possible that Assembly members could introduce an emergency ordinance similar to the current proposed mask ordinance as a laid-on-the-table item on Tuesday. Nine members need to vote in favor of an emergency ordinance for it to pass, Assembly Chair Suzanne LaFrance said. A public hearing is not required, she said.

Public hearings for two other proposals have been moved to later meetings; both play into the growing power struggle between the Assembly and Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson.

The first, proposed by Assembly Chair Suzanne LaFrance and Vice Chair Chris Constant, would speed the process for mayoral appointees to face confirmation by the Assembly. That will be taken up on Oct. 27.

The second, proposed by Constant, would give the Assembly chair management authority over the Assembly chambers, and comes after disputes between the Bronson administration and the Assembly over COVID-19 mitigation requirements in the chambers. That will be taken up on Dec. 7.