The Anchorage Assembly has chosen Eagle River resident Robin Dern to replace Assembly member Jamie Allard. Allard had represented the Chugiak-Eagle River area since 2020 and vacated her seat when she was sworn in to the Alaska Legislature this week.
After two rounds of voting on Thursday, Assembly members picked Dern from 10 candidates who put their name forward to replace Allard. Dern said she was motivated to apply for the seat when she saw that all of the other candidates were men.
“While I felt the bench was deep with experience, I noticed that there were no women, and I really did want to represent that voice,” Dern said. “There were many women in Eagle River who were mentors to me, who really set an example for me in terms of public policy.”
Dern had previously served as executive director of Congregation Beth Sholom and has worked with the Anti-Defamation League. She comes to the Assembly during a hectic time for the city.
Moments after she was sworn in, her first meeting involved addressing allegations of improper and unlawful activities by Mayor Dave Bronson, made by his former municipal manager Amy Demboski.
“I look to take the lead of the fellow Assembly members and to gauge the situation based upon the work they’ve been doing up until now,” she said.
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Dern is set to fill the Assembly seat for less than 90 days. Allard’s seat was up for reelection this year, but Dern said she doesn’t intend to run for a full three-year term in April.
“I feel interim leadership is important when you’re making a switch like this,” Dern said. “I also feel very strongly that I am at such a learning curve right now, that having to run a campaign at this point would be a little bit impossible.”
Two of the candidates who filed to fill the interim term — Scott Myers and Matt Cruickshank — have filed to run for the full three-year term.
This is the second and last Assembly seat that members had to fill this month. Forrest Dunbar was also elected to the state Legislature, and Assembly members picked Joey Sweet to fill the seat. Sweet has also stated he doesn’t intend to run in the April 4 election.
Candidates for any of the seven Assembly seats up for election in April have until Jan. 27 to file to run.