ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Residents are working to recall the mayor whose staff spent public money on purchases from and for her family members.
Eighteen residents who applied for the recall petition against North Slope Mayor Charlotte Brower began collecting signatures last week. They have until Jan. 8 to gather 492 signatures to force a new election.
In a statement, Brower said she is disappointed by the recall effort but that she respects the political process.
“I am quite proud of what my administration has accomplished in the past four years,” she said, pointing to the opening of two childcare centers and obtaining the first public housing funding seen in close to 20 years, among other examples.
Petitioners cite the borough spending more than $8,400 to send Brower’s daughters and grandchildren to basketball camp, as well as $7,000 that bought sealskin vests from her daughter.
Rex Okakok, one of the petitioners, worked for the North Slope Borough for almost two decades. Okakok said organizers are close to getting the needed signatures.
“We’re giving an opportunity for people to say these things are wrong and we need a better leadership than that,” Okakok said.
Brower has denied knowledge of the purchases, though documents obtained by the Alaska Dispatch News show a handwritten note with her name on the basketball camp request for funds.
Alaska Municipal League Executive Director Kathie Wasserman says a new election would cost thousands of dollars. She said very few people follow through with a process she called onerous.
She said the petitioners are “well on their way, and it looks like one or two of them have been collecting a lot of signatures, so it seems like they have the impetus and the momentum which is usually what stops most people.”
The Assembly voted at Brower’s request over the summer to appoint a law firm to investigate North Slope Borough purchasing policies and potential ethics code violations.