Bethel’s acting city manager resigns after assault charge

Bethel City Hall
Bethel City Hall (Christine Trudeau/KYUK)

Bethel’s Acting City Manager Bill Arnold has stepped down from his position after he was charged with misdemeanor assault on Sunday.

Mayor Mark Springer said at a city council meeting Tuesday that Arnold, 56, had resigned from his acting manager position the previous day.

“I received a text from Bill Arnold saying, ‘Effective immediately, I’m stepping down as acting city manager and stepping back into the role of Public Works Director,’” Springer told the council during the meeting.

Arnold started as acting city manager in November 2023.

Acting Bethel Police Chief Christopher Wigner wrote in a statement that on Sunday evening, a woman flagged down police officers to report an assault. Wigner wrote that after an initial investigation, Arnold was arrested for alleged assault and taken to the Yukon-Kuskokwim Correctional Center.

Arnold has been charged with one count of assault in the case. Wigner said that Arnold’s case is still under investigation and has been turned over to the state Office of Special Prosecutions.

On Tuesday, the Bethel City Council voted unanimously to appoint City Clerk Lori Strickler as acting city manager, effective immediately.

According to a document presented to the city council, Arnold was set to take five weeks of annual leave from mid-July to mid-August, during which time he requested that Strickler be appointed the interim city manager. In light of Arnold’s resignation, during the Tuesday meeting, council members amended that request to be effective immediately and extended it until a permanent city manager is hired.

Strickler said that will require some big shifts in the clerk’s office.

“As an acting employee, I would transition as much as I could out of the city clerk’s office to avoid dual positions, dual roles within the organization,” Strickler said. “The city clerk has to be very neutral in the way that they interact with the public and the council. The city manager’s role is completely different, right? The city manager has to make decisions and take actions based off of what’s in the best interest of the city and provide recommendations to the council in that same vein.”

While Strickler serves as acting city manager, deputy clerk Kevin Morgan will serve as the acting city clerk. Under local code, while serving in their acting roles Strickler and Morgan will receive a 10% pay increase from their current salaries. Although Arnold is no longer the acting city manager, he has moved back into his former role as the Bethel Public Works Director.

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