Alaska Legislature

Alaska Supreme Court to hear appeal of residency ruling in Anchorage House election

JUNEAU — The Republican who lost an Anchorage House race last fall has appealed a judge’s ruling that found that Democrat Jennifer “Jennie” Armstrong met residency requirements to take office and accepted Armstrong as the winner.

Republican Liz Vazquez and four others who were part of her lawsuit filed an appeal of Superior Court Judge Herman Walker Jr.’s decision on Tuesday. The Alaska Supreme Court plans to hear arguments on Friday.

Walker issued his ruling Monday, after hearing the case in late December. The new Legislature convenes Tuesday.

The lawsuit alleged Armstrong had not been a resident of Alaska for at least three years immediately before filing to run for office and was therefore not qualified to hold the office. Under the state constitution, to serve in the legislature one must be a “qualified voter who has been a resident of Alaska for at least three years and of the district from which elected for at least one year, immediately preceding his filing for office.”

The filing deadline was June 1.

Armstrong maintained she moved to Alaska on May 20, 2019, and Walker said he found that Armstrong became a resident of the state on that day based on the evidence provided. He said the result of the November election was accepted and that Armstrong “remains the certified winner.”

But attorneys for Vazquez and the other plaintiffs in court documents cited what they called errors in Walker’s decision, including an “inconsistent” interpretation of state law and constitutional provisions. Attorneys Stacey Stone, Richard Moses and Anna Cometa also said the decision was “supported by insufficient evidence.”

An attorney for Armstrong, Scott Kendall, on Monday called the case “nothing more than a half-baked political stunt, and any appeal of Judge Walker’s decision would be no better.”

Becky Bohrer, Associated Press

Becky Bohrer is a reporter for the Associated Press based in Juneau.