Anchorage clerk claims mayor’s staff meddles in election

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Anchorage municipal clerk has accused the mayor’s office of using city resources in an attempt to influence the outcome of a recall election.

Clerk Barbara Jones noted her objections in a letter Monday to Amy Demboski, the chief of staff for Mayor Dave Bronson, and IT manager Marc Dahl, Alaska Public Media reported.

The objections stem from a banner that was placed at the top of the city’s webpage, which doesn’t advocate on how people should vote and only says that there is a special election and mail-in ballots are due Oct. 26.

The election is to decide whether Assembly member Meg Zalatel should be recalled.

In her letter, Jones said only the clerk’s office has the legal authority to conduct outreach and education regarding city elections. Jones did not say who ordered the banner be placed on the webpage, but said it didn’t come from her office nor was anyone on her election team notified.

She called this type of banner unprecedented.

“This elevates the notice of this Special Election beyond any historical customary notice provided in the history of the Municipality,” she wrote. “It is clearly intended to influence this election.”

The mayor’s office did not respond to emails from either Alaska Public Media or The Associated Press seeking comment.

However, Demboski responded to Jones late Tuesday, saying the administration made no attempt to influence the election. She also said they were only providing residents a way to find out more about the election by linking to the clerk’s election information page.

“The reaction of the Clerk’s office leadership creates an appearance of bias,” Demboski wrote, “which leads me to question your objectivity, or ability, to conduct and oversee this election in a neutral manner.”

The banner remained on the Anchorage website as of Wednesday morning.