Anchorage

Anchorage Assembly cancels Wednesday public hearing after passage of revised mask mandate

Editor’s note: The Anchorage Assembly is set to consider overriding Mayor Dave Bronson’s veto of the mask ordinance in their meeting Thursday. Read our latest coverage here.

Anchorage Assembly leaders canceled a meeting they had scheduled for Wednesday to hear more public comment on a mask ordinance, after they passed a revised ordinance late Tuesday night.

The Assembly also called off a meeting on the mask ordinance tentatively scheduled for Thursday.

The new emergency ordinance, effective immediately, requires people in Anchorage to wear masks in indoor public spaces and is in effect for 60 days, unless two of Anchorage’s three hospitals stop operating under crisis standards of care for 14 consecutive days, or when the city is no longer experiencing high or substantial community transmission for 14 consecutive days.

Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson has already said he will veto the mask ordinance, and he must do that within 36 hours of Tuesday’s vote, according to Assembly Vice Chair Chris Constant. The Assembly would then need a supermajority of at least 8 votes to override the veto. The final vote on the emergency mask ordinance Tuesday was 9-1.

A spokeswoman for the Assembly said a meeting to vote on overriding the veto will be scheduled after the veto is made.

The emergency ordinance was put forward by Assembly members Meg Zaletel and Pete Petersen, who also introduced the original ordinance. Because it is an emergency ordinance, it did not require public testimony, Assembly leaders said. Testimony on the previous ordinance had stretched over multiple raucous meetings as opponents worked to stall the vote.

Tuesday night’s meeting drew a much smaller crowd — the emergency ordinance was not on the agenda because Zaletel and Petersen did not introduce it until partway through the meeting.

Bronson in a statement posted on social media after Tuesday’s vote rebuked the Assembly for passing the emergency ordinance “under the cloak of darkness and while misleading the public that they would be allowed to testify on the mask mandate before a vote.”

“They have broken the public trust,” Bronson said.

In their own statement, Assembly leaders on Tuesday said they “made a concerted effort to protect the public process to ensure that as many people as possible had an opportunity to voice their opinion on the subject before we made our decision. However, the public process has been abused by members of our community who have conspired to prevent the Assembly from translating those perspectives into much needed action,” and had “concluded that we have enough data to make an informed decision that represents the will of the majority of the community.”

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