Anchorage

Anchorage Mayor Bronson’s boards and commissions director resigns

Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson’s director of boards and commissions has resigned.

Stephanie Williams resigned on Oct. 21 and cited personal reasons for leaving, Corey Allen Young, spokesman for the mayor, confirmed Tuesday. Terrence Shanigan, who Bronson appointed as his director of legislative affairs when taking office, will fill her spot until the mayor finds a replacement, Young said. An attempt to reach Williams by phone was unsuccessful.

Williams had been working in a special assistant position, and director of boards and commissions was a “working title,” Young said. The director of boards and commissions was not an executive appointment, and so was not subject to Assembly confirmation.

City boards and commissions are volunteer panels that oversee a variety of city functions such as parks, libraries, zoning or advising on the budget. Shanigan’s work in the position as director includes preparing and filling spots for Assembly confirmation to serve on the various boards and commissions, according to Young.

On social media, Williams was an outspoken Bronson supporter and critic of the Anchorage Assembly. She resigned from the position three days after a screenshot of a social media comment in which she called Assembly members “criminals” was sent to Municipal Manager Amy Demboski.

Young did not respond to a question about whether complaints about her social media activity influenced the resignation and reiterated that Williams resigned for personal reasons.

Williams’ comment calling Assembly members “criminals” was posted by her personal Facebook account on the same night that the Anchorage Assembly passed the emergency ordinance requiring people to wear masks in public spaces within the municipality for 60 days. The emergency ordinance came after public testimony on a similar ordinance stretched over two weeks and had been scheduled to continue in the following days.

“This assembly is about to pass a law for 60 days in the dead of night! No testimony,” she wrote in a post. In the comments, Williams said “they are criminals” and used the phrase “I will not comply” — a refrain often repeated by people in the Assembly chambers opposed to the mask requirement.

The screenshot was sent to Demboski on Oct. 18 by Yarrow Silvers, a co-founder of Anchorage Action, a local political action group.

Silvers told Demboski that she is concerned about boards and commissions appointments, which are overseen by Williams, who Silvers said has used social media to spread “politically motivated mistruths.”

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“Stephanie Williams may not like the decisions the assembly makes in representing their respective districts, but to spread such inflammatory falsehoods from a position of city leadership is unconscionable and only serves to deepen the divide in our city,” Silvers said.

Anchorage Action formed recently in part as a counter to the Save Anchorage Facebook group, which has become a social media nexus and political organization tool for people vehemently opposed to the Assembly’s actions. Save Anchorage’s more than 8,000 members largely supported Bronson’s campaign for mayor and most recently organized drawn-out public testimony against the city’s mask ordinance last month, in an attempt to delay the process and keep the Assembly from passing the ordinance. Williams is a member of Save Anchorage.

Assembly members also have questions about the mayor’s appointments to boards and commissions, which, until recently, were overseen by Williams.

The mayor submitted nominations to the Assembly for 83 appointees, including 10 reappointments and 73 new appointments, according to an Assembly statement.

The Assembly is holding a work session about the nominations on Thursday, and sent the administration a series of six questions about the appointments on Oct. 26.

Assembly members asked, “What outreach and advertising was done to recruit the new appointees? Was the outreach done in a way that ensures broad community representation on the Boards and Commissions (several have specific requirements to meet geographic and demographic diversity)?”

Another question was if new appointees meet specific requirements and technical requirements outlined in city code.

During a meeting Monday, the Assembly postponed its confirmation vote for one appointee to the Anchorage Community Development Authority’s board of directors over concerns with the appointee’s qualifications meeting code requirements, while it confirmed the other three appointees.

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Young said that at the Assembly’s request, there is a process underway to ensure every spot is filled by a qualified person.

The Assembly has confirmed the majority of Bronson’s appointees to executive positions, but Bronson and the Assembly have had a series of disputes over other appointees, including his choices for director of the Anchorage Public Library. The Assembly rejected his initial nominee, saying she failed to meet minimum qualifications — Sami Graham, now serving as Bronson’s chief of staff — and has the same concerns about the current acting director, Judy Norton Eledge.

Multiple other people have resigned or been fired recently from the Bronson administration. Craig Campbell, director of policy and programs, Bob Doehl, director of development services, and Dr. John Morris, homelessness coordinator, resigned last month. Bronson fired Mass Care Branch Chief Shawn Hays, Chief Equity Officer Clifford Armstrong III and Real Estate Director Christina Hendrickson.

Armstrong and Hendrickson are suing the city over their firings.

Emily Goodykoontz

Emily Goodykoontz is a reporter covering Anchorage local government and general assignments. She previously covered breaking news at The Oregonian in Portland before joining ADN in 2020. She earned her degree in journalism from the University of Oregon. Contact her at egoodykoontz@adn.com.

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