Anchorage

Anchorage Assembly appoints temporary representative after Eagle River member’s departure

anchorage assembly, library, robin dern

The Anchorage Assembly on Thursday voted to appoint Robin Dern to represent Eagle River and Chugiak until the next regular city election, replacing Jamie Allard, who left her term early to serve in the Alaska Legislature.

Dern, a photographer, was selected to represent District 2, which includes Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, after the Assembly interviewed 10 candidates for the seat on Thursday afternoon. She was appointed in a 7-4 vote after two rounds of voting.

Allard was elected to serve in the Alaska House of Representatives and was sworn into the House on Tuesday, leaving her Eagle River/Chugiak seat on the Assembly open until the next regular municipal election in April.

Dern has lived in both Eagle River and Chugiak over the last 27 years, according to the application she submitted to the Assembly. She wrote that she believes the role of a member should be “less partisan” and “more get the job done.”

“The agenda is bettering local community and striving toward smart local governance of municipal policy,” she wrote.

Dern has served on a number of boards, including as a co-chair of the Anchorage Schools Foundation. She also volunteered for numerous organizations including the Arctic Winter Games and the Eagle River Food Pantry.

Dern said she does not intend to run for a full term on the Assembly in the next election, and said she feels interim roles are important.

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Dern said there were no other women who had put their names forth to fill the interim seat.

“It feels good to be able to provide a voice that wasn’t there before I put my name in,” she said Thursday.

“I think there are a lot of people who are intimidated by this process, including me,” she continued. “And I think there are a lot of young people who think that they don’t have any place in this process, and I thought that maybe if I put my name in and if I just came and was myself and showed that anybody can run, that maybe I might inspire some people to go for it during the general election.”

In her time on the Assembly, Allard was an outspoken supporter of Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson and his administration, and was often at odds with the Assembly majority.

Allard weighed in on Dern’s appointment in a Facebook post Thursday, saying, “Watch for the Anchorage Assembly wanting to introduce Pot Shops and expanding the BSSA in Chugiak-Eagle River.”

For her part, Dern said what she hopes to accomplish is to be a “conduit” between people in her district and the Assembly, ”and to make sure that we have a lasting communication that’s solid and that people feel heard.”

Earlier this month, the Assembly appointed Stephen “Joey” Sweet as an interim member to fill the East Anchorage seat vacated by Forrest Dunbar, who also left to serve in the Legislature and was sworn into the Alaska Senate this week.

Daily News photojournalist Emily Mesner contributed.

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Megan Pacer

Megan Pacer is a digital audience producer at the Anchorage Daily News. A 2015 graduate of Central Michigan University, she's previously worked as a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion in Kenai and the Homer News, and as a digital producer for Alaska's News Source in Anchorage. Contact her at mpacer@adn.com.

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