Anchorage ombudsman recommends firing city IT director for role in election challenge

Yellow bins hold machine-sorted ballots at the Anchorage Voting Center. (Elyssa Loughlin/Alaska Public Media)

Anchorage’s ombudsman is recommending that the city’s IT director be fired for his role in a challenge to this year’s city election. 

Ombudsman Darrel Hess also says he believes there may have been a violation of state election law and he’s forwarding his findings to the state Office of Special Prosecutions, according to his final investigative report released last week. 

Hess’ investigation stems from an election complaint filed on April 11 by Sami Graham, a former chief of staff to Mayor Dave Bronson. In her complaint, Graham cited a policy that required an IT staff member be present or give approval for all insertions of USB devices into “critical” municipal computers. That policy had just been finalized the day of her complaint — a week after election day — and was not public at the time. City records show IT director Marc Dahl emailed it to Graham. The policy was also not approved using city rules for new policies, Bronson officials said last month

Hess began investigating the incident after it was first reported by the Anchorage Daily News in May, and a constituent filed a complaint to him. In his final report, Hess concluded that Dahl was “acquainted with Graham and was feeding her information to assist her in formulating challenges to the April 4th Municipal election.”

Hess wrote that Dahl, “damaged the reputation of the Municipality’s Office of Information Technology,” and should be fired. 

Hess also recommended that all city department heads have similar restrictions regarding participating in elections, there should be penalties for tampering with Anchorage’s elections and that all city employees receive annual ethics training. According to Hess’ report, the administration responded affirmatively to the latter two of those recommendations.

Officials with the Bronson administration said Monday that Dahl is still a city employee and has been on administrative leave for several months. They did not say whether the mayor plans on firing Dahl. 

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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