By Lora Manson
Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson has vetoed an ordinance recently approved by the city’s Assembly that puts into city code a process for removing a mayor for a “breach of the public trust.”
The Assembly passed the ordinance last week, after making several changes to the measure, including raising the standard of evidence that would have to be met in order for a hearing officer to determine whether a breach of the public trust actually took place.
The Assembly approved the legislation with a vote of 9-3. In order to override any mayoral veto, the Assembly needs a supermajority of eight votes.
In a Monday statement, Bronson said the legislation conflicts with current municipal charter, “and is therefore unconstitutional.” Bronson claims the ordinance makes inconsistent assertions and has inconsistent definitions when it comes to a “breach of the public trust,” and that it creates a delegation of power conflict when it comes to the municipal attorney’s role.
Since Assembly Vice Chair Chris Constant introduced the ordinance back in May, Bronson has been vocally opposed to the measure, calling it a “blatant attack on the office of the mayor.”
In his statement Monday, Bronson said members of the Assembly have used the ordinance ”as a vehicle to try to send chills through the current administration.”
Up to now, a recall was the only way to remove an Anchorage mayor from office outside of a regular election cycle. This addition to city code doesn’t change voters’ ability to recall a mayor, but it creates a process by which the Assembly, or a municipal board of ethics, could begin removal proceedings.
Members of the Assembly have said that putting this process into city code will set clear boundaries on the power of a mayor, as well as fulfill a section of municipal charter that state’s the body “shall” establish removal processes for elected officials. Such removal processes are already in place for other elected Anchorage officials, like those on the Assembly and school board.