Eagle River secession advisory vote won’t be on the Anchorage ballot this April

Anchorage voters won’t see an advisory vote on whether Eagle River should secede from the municipality on the upcoming April ballot.

The Anchorage Assembly rejected two different proposals that would have put questions on the ballot about the long-standing idea.

At a Wednesday meeting, the Assembly rejected a proposal from Assembly Vice Chair Christopher Constant to put a question before Anchorage voters: “Should the area of Eagle River, Chugiak, and Eklutna be detached from the Municipality of Anchorage and form a separate local government?”

The Assembly also rejected a separate effort from Eagle River/Chugiak representatives Crystal Kennedy and Jamie Allard that would have asked voters in Eagle River, Chugiak, Birchwood, Eklutna and Peters Creek whether those areas should research detaching from the the city.

If passed, both measures would have resulted in advisory votes, meaning that even if the voters approved they would not separate the communities from the municipality.

Allard and Kennedy moved to postpone Constant’s proposal indefinitely, and it was essentially killed when the Assembly favored their motion in an 10-1 vote. Constant voted in favor of postponing it indefinitely “for the purpose of building a better base of support for this conversation because I think it’s a fair approach to take,” he said.

Assembly member Austin Quinn-Davidson was the sole member to vote in favor of the proposal.


“The question is pretty straightforward and pretty simple. And I like that about it,” she said.

Some members who voted against it indicated that they do think a similar question should be presented to Anchorage residents at some point.

After public testimony and debate over Allard and Kennedy’s effort, the Assembly rejected their proposal in a 4-7 vote. Assembly Chair Suzanne LaFrance and member John Weddleton joined Allard and Kennedy in voting to pass their proposal.

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An Eagle River exit from the city is a longstanding idea that goes back decades to when the communities were incorporated into Anchorage, and the community has made multiple efforts to separate.

Most recently the effort has been revived by EaglExit, a group seeking to separate Eagle River, Chugiak and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson from the municipality.

Many in support of the idea say that north Anchorage communities should have full self-determination and that the region is often at odds with political decisions made by the city. The area’s population is more white and more conservative than the rest of the municipality. However, city officials and others have argued secession would be enormously complicated, and have raised questions about how the area could pay for services and how to untangle shared utilities, among others.

The chair of the EaglExit group, Sean Murphy, said he had mixed feelings about the proposals from the three Assembly members. Constant’s suggested advisory vote would have taken the temperature on the feelings of Anchorage residents about secession, which Murphy said could have been helpful to his cause. But it did not include Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, which he said troubled him.

“JBER should be included because they’re a part of Assembly District 2,” Murphy said.

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Murphy also thought that only residents of the district should have been polled in the proposed advisory votes, but Constant’s would have gone out to the entire city, he said.

Not all people in District 2 are supportive of a secession and there are strong feelings on both sides, Kennedy said at the meeting.

“I don’t believe that a lot of people in my community are ready to make such a black-and-white, yes-or-no answer to the question of detachment,” Kennedy said.

The Birchwood Community Council, part of Kennedy and Allard’s district, recently passed a resolution against both proposals, urging the Assembly to turn them down.

Debbie Ossiander, co-chair of the council, said the timing was premature, there were too many unknowns and that the idea should be approached one step at a time.

“There’s too much uncertainty,” she said. “People don’t know what it would look like. People don’t know what it would cost. People don’t know how it would be structured. What about schools? What about the military base?”

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. Contact her at