Anchorage

Anchorage Assembly overrides Mayor Bronson’s veto of ordinance on meeting rules

The Anchorage Assembly voted to override Mayor Dave Bronson’s veto of an ordinance that added rules and procedures to city code for conducting Assembly meetings.

The Assembly overturned the veto in a 9-2 vote during a special meeting Friday. A supermajority of eight votes is needed to override a veto. Members Jamie Allard and Crystal Kennedy voted against the override.

Bronson had contended that some of the rules in the ordinance violate free speech and state laws about firearms, calling it “another attempt” by the Assembly to take power away from the executive branch of municipal government.

Assembly leaders have said that the ordinance added procedures and customs long used by the Assembly to city code, and that the updates are necessary to make sure meetings are safe and efficient. They have also said that the ordinance was not intended to restrict the right of people who attend meetings to legally carry firearms.

Local law must be applied in accordance with state law, and does not trump state law regarding firearms, Assembly Vice Chair Chris Constant said Friday.

Constant said the ordinance reduces confusion and provides to the public clarity and transparency about rules. It also expands the right of the mayor to call on municipal staff during Assembly meetings, he said.

Since Bronson took office, a power struggle between the mayor and the Assembly has emerged, with both sides arguing over control of the Assembly chambers and other issues.

Kennedy, who often votes in support of Bronson’s policies, said that the ordinance is directed at and attempts to control the public, calling it a “laundry list of things” that the Assembly chair doesn’t want the public to do. She said the ordinance is unnecessary because at any point in time, the chair could make a ruling that a person has violated decorum or procedure in the chambers, and the rest of the members could vote to overrule the chair if needed.

“What we do with having this list is we actually antagonize the public and we insult them,” Kennedy said. “That’s what I take the most issue with — is that this just seems like a vindictive way of getting back at a few people.”

Assembly member John Weddleton disagreed with Kennedy, saying that very little in the ordinance addresses the public and that it adds valuable provisions to city code, including a new ability for the Assembly to end a public hearing on an item that it is postponing indefinitely — meaning that the body does not have to hear public testimony on an agenda item that it wishes to kill.

It also recognizes silent protest as a valid form of testimony, something the Assembly has recently been confronted with, he said.

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.

Sponsored