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Homer's small town politics heat up over the recall vote

Aaron Bolton, KBBI News

Contentious small town politics took on a festive vibe over the weekend. Political action committees on both sides of the Homer City Council recall issue held rallies with live music and likeminded people. Both groups aimed to energize voters before they head to the ballot box Tuesday, deciding the fate of the three liberal members of Homer’s local government.

Alice’s Champagne Palace was standing room only Friday night for Homer Citizens Against the Recall’s rally. Homer residents converged on the local bar hangout to rally support and oppose a recall effort against council members Catriona Reynolds, David Lewis and Donna Aderhold.

Though spirits were high and the mood was festive, Chairman of the anti-recall group Ron Keffer says the stakes are real.

“There’s an element there of determining the future of our council that we’re very concerned about. These people got elected because we like them, and we like the work they do. We want to keep them in office,” Keffer said.

The political action group has remained relatively quiet leading up to Friday. Keffer explained that efforts have primarily been focused on making hundreds of calls on the Democratic Party’s voter list.

“The way we see it, if our voters just show up and vote, then we should come out of this alright,” he said with some cautious optimism.  

According to the latest state independent expenditure report, Homer Citizens Against the Recall has raised about $8,300 since early May. Most of those funds have come from individual contributors. Keffer is happy with the support he’s seen so far, but doesn’t doubt there’s energy on both sides of the fence.

“Tip O’Neill famously said when he was Speaker of the House in D.C. that all politics are local. I’m not sure just how true that is, but I know there is a lot of truth in it, and for people in Homer, politics is local now in a very real way,” Keffer noted.

All three council members were in attendance and gave a short letter-like speech addressed to their supporters.

“Thank you for understanding recall in Alaska must show grounds, and that following process is not grounds,” Reynolds shouted into the bar’s PA system.

“Thank you for demonstrating faith in us,” Aderhold followed.

“Thank you for voting when the sun is high and the fish are running,” Lewis said before all three joined to say, “We are humbled!”

Credit Aaron Bolton, KBBI News
Heartbeat of Homer supporters gather at Karen Hornaday Park the Saturday before the recall vote.

Heartbeat of Homer, the pro-recall group, gathered at Karen Hornaday Park on Saturday for hot food off the grill and music. Speeches were also short, and the idea was the same, keep supporters motivated going into Tuesday’s vote.

“And you’re great people. If you look around, get to know each other because these are your people,” Heartbeat of Homer spokeswoman Sarah Vance said to the group’s supporters.

Vance says regardless of election results, the group will remain active and its voice will continue to be heard.

“Our government is only limited by what they know, and if you don’t speak up on what you believe to be a priority, then they’ll never know,” Vance said of Heartbeat’s vocal opposition to the three council members.

This is Vance’s first time stepping into the political realm and did say she will continue to work with the PAC. Vance declined to say what issues Heartbeat will take on next, but added its focus will be on promoting community engagement in local government.

“Heartbeat of Homer is birthed out of people finally realizing that it’s time for them to pay attention to what’s going on around them, to get involved, that they need to start volunteering and be a part of what’s going on,” Vance explained. “Otherwise, we’re just part of the problem.”

According to Heartbeat’s latest expenditure report, it has raised about $9,200.

In-person absentee voting will closes Monday. On Tuesday, polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at City Hall and Homer’s senior center. 

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