This post has been updated to reflect comments from Don McConachie and Mayor Prysunka. The names of the other sponsors of the application were also added, and the number of required signatures was changed from one quarter of voters in the mayoral race, to one quarter of total ballots cast.
A group of 10 citizens are trying to recall Wrangell’s mayor.
They accuse Mayor Steve Prysunka of violating state and local law by giving insufficient notice of an emergency meeting of the Wrangell Assembly last November.
The recall application — filed at City Hall Monday morning by community member Don McConachie Sr. — took issue with a hastily called emergency meeting in which the Assembly imposed a mask mandate carrying a $25 fine.
“I don’t want people to feel that I am against something, or that we are against something,” McConachie said Tuesday. “I would prefer to think that we are for something else. I’d like to keep it positive. And what we are for is the rule of law, and the way you should conduct yourself when you are a member of the assembly for the Borough and City of Wrangell, Alaska.”
The other sponsors of the application are: James R. DeBord, Michael T. Lockabey, Michelle Bloom, Ryan Soeteber, Royce Cowan, Sherri D. Cowan, Dusty Cowan, Sarah Cowan, Jerry Wayne McHolland.
The meeting came just hours after Gov. Dunleavy used the statewide emergency cell phone alert system to warn Alaskans about rising COVID infections.
It was called with 5 hours notice.
Wrangell’s municipal code doesn’t have a provision for emergency meetings. It follows Alaska state statutes on emergency meetings. State law is flexible with the time between notice and an emergency meeting.
The emergency mask ordinance was in effect for three weeks before it was allowed to expire.
Wrangell’s municipal code allows an elected official to be removed for misconduct, incompetence, or failure to perform prescribed duties.
Now that the petitioners, led by McConachie, have submitted the application, the city’s attorney will review it. Once that’s complete, and if the grounds are ruled sufficient, the petitioners will have to collect at least 121 signatures. That’s a quarter of the voters that cast ballots in last October’s municipal election.
If enough signatures are collected and certified, Wrangell will hold a special recall election.
This is the second time the group has tried to start the process of recalling Mayor Prysunka. McConachie tried to file a recall application in early January. But the recall process can’t be started until a public official is 120 days into their term. Mayor Prysunka’s 120th day of term was on Friday (February 5).
If the mayor is recalled, the assembly could appoint someone to fill the remainder of his term which expires in 2022.
Mayor Prysunka declined to comment, saying he felt it would be inappropriate to comment until a later point in the multi-step process.
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