Bronson’s pick for top Anchorage librarian declines job, leaving controversial deputy director in charge

A tan building
The Z.J. Loussac Library in Anchorage. (Wesley Early/Alaska Public Media)

Three months after Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson announced a new pick to lead the city’s library system, officials say Robert Hudson will not be taking the job after all. 

Bronson nominated Hudson in April to take the top job at the library from the controversial acting director, Judy Eledge. 

Now, a spokesperson for the mayor says that while Hudson did verbally accept the job in April. He did not accept the final terms of the city’s offer. In an email on Thursday, Bronson spokesperson Hans Rodvik wrote that Hudson had requested extra time to move from his current home in Canada to Alaska. 

City officials said they’ll repost the job on the city’s website and restart the search for a new director.

But some Assembly members are blasting the city’s hiring process. Assembly member Chris Constant said it makes it seem like the Bronson administration is in no hurry to replace Eledge. The Bronson administration has been criticized for firing an official investigating alleged offensive comments and a toxic and chaotic workplace under Eledge.

“When they make an assertion that they had a process and just didn’t work out six months later, it sure does have the appearance that they’re attempting to continue this charade that Judy Eledge isn’t directing the library,” said Constant.

RELATED: Anchorage’s top library administrator was being investigated for workplace complaints. Bronson fired the investigator.

Rodvik, the mayor’s spokesperson, called charges like Constant’s “slanderous and unfounded.” 

The library director normally needs confirmation by the Assembly. Bronson’s first pick for library director, Sami Graham, was rejected by the Assembly, largely because she didn’t have the right qualifications, including a library science degree.

In August, Eledge was appointed as acting director, but stepped down to become deputy director in November. The deputy director job doesn’t require Assembly confirmation, and Eledge has been listed as acting director in public documents since she was first appointed. She also does not have a library science degree.

Constant said the Assembly will be looking into its options and may investigate the process the city has used to find applicants. The city declined to share the offer letter it made to Hudson nearly a month after Alaska Public Media made a public records request, saying that applicant information is private. 

Hudson could not be reached for comment. In 2018, he was named to head the Alaska State Library’s historical collections, but never started that job. 

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Lex Treinen covers culture, homelessness, politics and corrections for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at ltreinen@alaskapublic.org.