Hall Wins West Anchorage District by 500 Votes, Labor Referendum Denied

Assembly Chair Ernie Hall
Assembly Chair Ernie Hall

The ‘Write-in Nick Moe’ campaign has announced they will not challenge the results of the Anchorage Municipal Election in West Anchorage’s District 3. Thousands of voters wrote-in Moe’s name on the ballot, but even after a hand-count election, election officials say Moe lost by more than 500 votes. Also today, Anchorage attorneys today denied an application to hold a referendum repealing the controversial ordinance that limits unions and inspired Moe to jump into the race.

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Union leaders applied to hold a referendum on the controversial ordinance, called AO37, on April 3. Municipal Attorney Dennis Wheeler explains the application didn’t meet the technical requirements. But he says there was a bigger issue too:

“You cannot address administrative matters by referendum,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler argues the matter is ‘administrative’ because it deals with issues like where certain employees are located during work, the number of health benefit programs that employees can choose from and the time frame in which the collective bargaining process should take place. Union leaders applied to hold the referendum the day after municipal elections, when voters turned out in numbers to protest the ordinance at the ballot box.

Several thousand filled in the name of write-in candidate, Nick Moe instead of voting for Ernie Hall, who was running unopposed in West Anchorage’s District 3. Hall chairs the Assembly and oversaw passage of the ordinance. Under his leadership, a public hearing was closed before everyone who showed up had a chance to testify. Andy Holeman is the President of the Anchorage Education Association. He was the primary sponsor of the application for a referendum. He does not agree with Wheeler’s analysis.

“The charter suggests that citizens can reverse an ordinance enacted by the Assembly and that’s what we want to do. We think it’s about that straight forward. If you have to go to court to get the right to do that, then we’re prepared to take that action,” Holeman said.

Holeman says before filing a lawsuit he and other union leaders plan to submit a new application to hold a referendum, in an effort to remedy technical problems with their previous application.

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Daysha Eaton is a contributor with the Alaska Public Radio Network. Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage. Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email. Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.