Anchorage Assembly chair subpoenas mayor for documents tied to former health director

A man in a suit and glasses speaks behind a podium.
Mayor Dave Bronson speaks at the opening of Catholic Social Services’ 3rd Avenue Resource and Navigation Center on Feb. 15, 2023. (Elyssa Loughlin/Alaska Public Media)

The Anchorage Assembly chair has subpoenaed Mayor Dave Bronson to provide documents related to former health director Joe Gerace. However, the mayor’s office says it will not comply, setting up a likely legal battle.

Gerace served as health director for just under a year before resigning after an investigation from Alaska Public Media and American Public Media found he’d misrepresented his background including military, educational and medical credentials. 

The mayor said his administration would investigate Gerace’s hiring and his tenure. But Assembly chair Suzanne LaFrance said the administration hasn’t revealed anything — so the Assembly is using its subpoena powers to try to compel the release of information.

“It’s a pretty big, significant thing that happened, with the fraudulent credentials,” LaFrance said. “And the public was promised — at least that’s how I took it from what the administration said — that there would be a report and some answers.”  

The subpoena orders Bronson to release two documents to the Assembly, for examination at a public meeting. One, it says, is a January 2023 memorandum “styled as an investigation” into Gerace’s tenure. The second is a September 2022 document “styled as an investigation” into Gerace’s tenure that, it says, the January document was based on. The deadline to provide the documents: 5 p.m. Thursday.

Bronson’s administration has repeatedly refused to release information linked to the city’s investigation into Gerace, saying it’s a personnel matter and citing legal advice. In a statement on Wednesday, Bronson said he would not comply with the subpoena, saying current and former city workers have a guaranteed right to privacy that includes personnel records.

“The law requires that the Municipality not make such records public without the consent of the affected employee or a court order directing their release. It does not matter who the affected employee (or former employee) may be, and the content of any particular personnel record is similarly irrelevant,” the statement said. “The Municipality takes its obligation to protect the privacy of its employees seriously. Accordingly, the Administration will not make public the documents requested by the Assembly.”

LaFrance disagrees that all of the information that’s being requested is private. 

“I don’t understand because there shouldn’t be anything confidential in the report, especially a redacted one,” LaFrance said. “Because we’re not asking for personnel information. We’re simply wanting to know about the investigation and what was done, and the process.”

LaFrance’s subpoena powers are new. In an unprecedented move, the Assembly voted last month to give its chair the ability to subpoena people to get information on Gerace’s tenure. It first subpoenaed then-Human Resources director Niki Tshibaka. Tshibaka responded to one subpoena and abruptly resigned a day before he was set to appear before the Assembly a second time. 

LaFrance said earlier in the day, before the mayor’s statement, that she didn’t expect the latest subpoena to yield new information. But, she said, it’s part of a procedural process before taking legal action. Assembly leaders said if Bronson did not comply, they planned to take the matter to court.

In his statement, Bronson said his administration is working on a formal response to the Assembly’s subpoena

This story has been updated with response from Mayor Bronson. Alaska Public Media’s Jeremy Hsieh contributed to this report.

Wesley Early covers Anchorage life and city politics for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at and follow him on X at @wesley_early. Read more about Wesley here.

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