Elections officials investigate eligibility complaint against Southwest Alaska House candidate

the Alaska State Capitol
Budding trees and bushes are seen in front of the Alaska State Capitol on Wednesday, May 1, 2024. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

The Alaska Division of Elections is investigating whether nonpartisan candidate Darren Deacon is eligible to run for office in House District 37, a large region covering parts of Southwest Alaska.

a map
Alaska House District 37, seen in gray, stretches from Beluga in the Kenai Peninsula Borough in the east to Attu Island in the west. (Detail of Alaska Division of Elections map)

Documents obtained from the division through a public records request show eligibility complaints were filed against three state House candidates during a legally allowed 10-day window in early June.

The division dismissed complaints against Republicans Steve Menard of Wasilla and Brandy Pennington of Anchorage, but in Deacon’s case, the division is investigating further.

Contacted by phone and email, Deacon said he was unaware of the complaint against him and will review the documents. If they warrant a comment, he said he would speak at that time.

State law requires that a legislative candidate be a resident of Alaska for three years and of their district for at least one year before filing their candidacy.

The complaint against Deacon was filed by Rep. Zack Fields, D-Anchorage, who said that voting records indicate Deacon was registered to vote in Anchorage until recently and that his social media posts indicate that he lives in that city.

Deacon’s Facebook page at the time of the complaint stated that he “lives in Anchorage,” and his LinkedIn profile listed him as being employed in Anchorage for several years. 

Geotagged social media posts between January and May also show him “in Anchorage continuously,” Fields’ complaint states.

In its letter to Deacon, the Division of Elections said that Deacon voted in the November 2022 general election from Anchorage and that he didn’t switch his voter registration to Kalskag, a town in District 37, until Feb. 26.

When Deacon filed a declaration of candidacy in March, the division rejected it because Deacon said he had been a resident of Kalskag since May 15, 2023. Deacon refiled his candidacy form on May 16 this year, and it was accepted.

The Division of Elections letter states that because Deacon was recently registered to vote outside District 37, he must show “clear and convincing evidence” that he has maintained “a habitation” in Kalskag since May 15, 2023. 

“If you do not provide additional materials by July 1, DOE will issue a final determination based on the evidence it has,” the letter states.

Deacon is a board member for the Kuskokwim Corp., a Native corporation with shareholders from 10 villages along the Kuskokwim River, including Kalskag. His online biography states that he resides in Kalskag and graduated from George Morgan Sr. High School in Upper Kalskag in 1997 before becoming a telecommunications technician.

Deacon is the lone candidate running against longtime incumbent Rep. Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham. 

“From what I know, it’s very clear he hasn’t lived in House District 37 for a number of years. I’ve been told by sources in Kalskag that he hasn’t lived there year-round for two to three years, if not longer,” Edgmon said when reached by phone on Wednesday.

He had no comment when asked whether he coordinated with Fields on the complaint.

Alaska Beacon is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Alaska Beacon maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Andrew Kitchenman for questions: info@alaskabeacon.com. Follow Alaska Beacon on Facebook and X.

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