Anchorage

Recall petition against Anchorage Assembly member Jamie Allard approved by city clerk

The Anchorage Municipal Clerk’s Office on Wednesday approved a petition for the recall of Assembly member Jamie Allard, who represents Eagle River.

Petitioners must gather 2,530 signatures from voters in Assembly District 2, equal to 25% of the votes cast in the April 7, 2020 election, to get the recall initiative on a ballot. Petition sponsors have until Jan. 17 to collect enough signatures.

The petition’s main sponsors, Anchorage residents Chelsea Foster and Kerry Brown, filed the petition Nov. 9. They claim Allard committed misconduct in office and failed to perform her prescribed duties as an Assembly member when she knowingly participated in an indoor gathering of more than 15 people during an Assembly meeting in August 2020 under a previous COVID-19 emergency order limiting gathering sizes.

During that meeting, Allard interrupted to tell the Assembly chair that she believed there were 17 people in the room, rather than the 15 allowed, which she referred to in an emailed statement.

“Even though the merits of recall are laughable because I was the only one who objected — on the record — to the issue they are attempting to recall me for, I believe in our democracy and the vote of the people,” Allard said.

Similar claims against Midtown Assembly members Felix Rivera and Meg Zaletel were upheld in Superior Court and in the Alaska Supreme Court as valid reasons for recall. Rivera and Zaletel defeated those recall efforts in different elections this year.

“We knew that one would pass, which is why we chose it,” Foster said. “We want to be successful.”

In a brief to the city clerk advising that the petition should be approved, Municipal Attorney Patrick Bergt noted that the right to recall is liberally construed under Alaska law and court precedent, and that voters are the “ultimate decision makers.”

Under state law, it is up to voters to decide whether the allegations in a recall petition are true and whether an elected official should be recalled.

“Jamie Allard is the exact reason that recall language was put into charter. And unlike the last two failed recalls, the recall for this District 2 member is a fundamental democratic exercise, not an opportunity for well-funded special interests to undo an election,” Foster said.

Those recall efforts were filed by Russell Biggs, a local anesthesiologist and an administrator of the private Facebook group Save Anchorage, a social media nexus for people vehemently opposed to the Assembly’s actions, particularly its past and present COVID-19 policies and restrictions.

Allard, a conservative, is a vocal member of the group and has consistently voted against implementing pandemic restrictions in Anchorage. She is often at odds with the majority of the liberal-leaning Assembly, and generally is supportive of Mayor Dave Bronson’s policies.

Foster said that unlike Allard, Rivera and Zaletel fundamentally support and practice COVID-19 mitigation strategies.

“They’re vaccinated, they wear masks, they encourage others to wear masks. They encourage others to get vaccinated,” Foster said. “This (recall) is different because it’s actually true in this case that Jamie Allard consistently does not take her responsibility seriously when it comes to this pandemic.”

Foster is a part time cannabis industry consultant and is on the board of the Alaska Marijuana Industry Association.

Foster does not live in Allard’s Eagle River district. A person who lives in the district approached Foster and asked her to chair the recall campaign because the person feared retaliation, Foster said.

“The extreme partisan backers of this couldn’t even find someone in our district to sponsor it,” Allard said. “The people from Eagle River will see through the political gamesmanship.”

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