In a Special Meeting Tuesday evening Wrangell’s Borough Assembly voted 4 to 3 approving a resolution for a special election to be held in June, on the question of whether to recall 8 members who sit on the city-owned hospital’s board of directors.
This week’s special meeting comes after the Borough Assembly’s initial 3 to 2 vote approving the resolution for a special election was retracted last week due to a lack votes. According to municipal code “an affirmative vote of four members of the assembly is required for adoption of a resolution.”
Regrouping this week, all of the Assembly members were present for the special meeting. City Attorney Bob Blasco reaffirmed the purpose of the Assembly’s vote, saying it’s not a vote on whether the resolution for a special election for a recall is right or wrong but rather allowing the Borough Clerk to go forward with the scheduling of the election.
“The Assembly is not approving the petitions for a recall; they are not determining whether it is right or wrong, only fulfilling the function of the assembly. Once the Borough Clerk has determined under state law that the petition is sufficient to go forward under state law which is also not a determination of anything that is right or wrong, the Borough Clerk then schedules a special election consistent with state law, Wrangell codes, and Department of Justice pre-clearance,” he says.
On April 9th, Borough Clerk Christie Jamieson certified that the petitions for the recall of 8 hospital board members were sufficient to go forward to the Assembly in the form of a resolution for a special election. Blasco says in the scenario that the Assembly vote not to approve the resolution and not allow scheduling for a special election; any interested citizen could institute legal action for their right to vote. However, Assemblyman Don McConachie voted against the resolution stating that he believes a special election for a recall could mean a loss of funding for the new hospital project.
“I sincerely hope that I am wrong, but I honestly feel that we will lose the funding for the new hospital. Funding entities talk to each other and are aware of the conditions that exist in the towns they are considering for the funding. Common sense tells me that if I had $30 million would I give it to someone who is fighting or someone who is cooperating,” he says.
Also voting against the resolution was Assembly member Pam McCloskey and Wilma Stokes. Assemblyman Bill Privett voted in favor of the resolution. He says the petitioners of the recall have followed the rules of Wrangell’s Municipal Code, and says it’s not up to the Assembly to decide whether the public can or cannot vote.
“These citizens, right or wrong or indifferent, have chosen to do what they have done. And this is the recourse that is set up in our municipal code and ordinances for them to follow and they have done that. And I personally see that we have no choice but to allow for the process to go through,” he says.
The Borough Assembly voted 4 to 3 approving for a special election to be held June 19th. The election will be on whether to recall 8 hospital board members who sit on Wrangell Medical Center’s Board of Directors. The petitioned board members are Jim Nelson, Linda Bjorge, Lurine McGee, Sylvia Ettafaugh, Jake Harris, Delores Norman, LeAnn Rinehart, and Hospital Board Chairman Mark Robinson.