JUNEAU — Three elected officials in Homer who sponsored a resolution to promote inclusivity after President Donald Trump’s election have asked a judge to block efforts to recall them.
The three Homer City Council members — Donna Aderhold, David Lewis and Catriona Reynolds — are asking Superior Court Judge Erin Marston to bar the city of Homer from holding a recall election June 13.
In arguments before Marston in Anchorage on Monday, Eric Glatt, an attorney for the council members, said there are insufficient grounds for recall.
“It’s important to remember that, in Alaska, elected officials cannot be subjected to recall simply for a political disagreement but instead can only be subjected for recall for cause,” said Glatt, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska.
The council members, in court documents, have argued their actions are protected by their constitutional rights to free speech.
Eric Sanders, who is representing the city of Homer, said nothing in state law or in a Supreme Court case says anyone subject to a recall effort has to have committed a “bad act.”
Sanders said a recall effort is not retaliation or punishment but part of the political process. He said the standard by which to certify a recall petition is low.
Marston said he would issue a ruling by the end of the day Tuesday.
The recall effort is pegged to a resolution supporting the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota in its fight over a pipeline and a resolution aimed at promoting inclusivity.
According to the lawsuit, Lewis, Aderhold and Reynolds voted for the Standing Rock resolution introduced by Lewis. It was adopted when the mayor cast a tie-breaking vote.
The resolution aimed at affirming Homer’s commitment to inclusion amid national concerns about the treatment of immigrants, religious groups, the LGBTQ community and others was defeated. Reynolds, Lewis and Aderhold were listed as sponsors, but only Reynolds voted for it.
The resolution had been softened from an earlier draft that set off a furor.
The draft, which the lawsuit said was offered by a resident and posted online, referenced Trump, saying, for example, that Trump had stated a “disregard” for the First Amendment. Some residents considered it unnecessary and distasteful.
The revised version that was voted on did not mention Trump.
In an April memo to city officials, City Clerk Jo Johnson said the grounds for recall, set out by state law, are to be liberally construed in favor of access to the recall process.
The recall alleges the three council members are unfit for office. It also alleges misconduct, claiming damage was done when the draft of the resolution about inclusivity was made public.
Sanders said each council member has a right to submit a rebuttal statement that would appear on the ballot.