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Oral arugments in recall case set for Monday

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City of Homer

A decision in the Homer City Council recall case could come as soon as Monday, just a month before voters are scheduled to decide whether to oust council members Donna Aderhold, David Lewis and Catriona Reynolds.

The Alaska Civil Liberties Union of Alaska is suing the City of Homer to stop the election, sparked over two resolutions sponsored by the council members. The ACLU argues the members’ right to freedom of speech was violated when City Clerk Jo Johnson certified the three petitions.

In a case brief filed Thursday, City Attorney Eric Sanders says that Johnson followed the state statute, assuming that if the allegations were true, they would be grounds for recall. Sanders adds that the city is not stifling freedom of speech by following the statute outlining the clerk’s duties.

Recall petitioners argue that after the council members sponsored resolutions regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline and inclusivity, they’re unfit for office, violated their oath and committed misconduct.  

Johnson certified the petitions based on the first two allegations and made clear in an April 5 memo to the council that it’s up to the voters to decide if they’re grounds for recall.

A pro-recall group, Heartbeat of Homer, has been granted standing in the case and has sided with the city. Michael Fell, one of three petition sponsors, chairs the political action committee.

This comes after the case has landed on its fourth judge due to premptory challenges from all three parties. Each is afforded one challenge to disqualify judges for fear of bias.  Anchorage Superior Court Judge Erin Marston will hear oral arguments in the case Monday morning. The election is scheduled for June 13. 

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