Anchorage Assemblywoman Austin Quinn-Davidson will become the acting mayor of Anchorage on Oct. 23 when Mayor Ethan Berkowitz officially resigns from office.
The Assembly reorganized its leadership during a special meeting on Oct. 16 with the majority choosing Quinn-Davidson to replace Berkowitz as acting mayor and Felix Rivera to retain his spot as Assembly chair. The new leadership reflects the Assembly’s strong liberal majority. Quinn-Davidson and Rivera are among the most liberal members of the body.
Changes to the city’s top leadership posts were necessary in the wake of Berkowitz’s abrupt resignation following public scandal involving an inappropriate relationship with a local television reporter that made national headlines earlier this month.
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Quinn-Davidson takes over at a time of great tension and division within the city because of actions by the Assembly and mayor that have shut down businesses, churches and other entities due to COVID-19. This was on full display following the vote that elected Quinn-Davidson as chair of the Assembly – a post she will relinquish upon becoming acting mayor on Oct. 23.
Quinn-Davidson threatened multiple times to have security remove members of the public for speaking over the allotted three-minute time slot, or for yelling out of turn during the meeting. She eventually had security remove a man from the building.
The meeting began with an explanation from municipal attorney Kate Vogel regarding options the Assembly has for replacing the mayor. This includes two basic options. One is to hold a special election on or after Jan. 21, 2021 to elect a mayor who would serve until June 30, 2021. This mayor would then be replaced by whomever won the April 6 regular election (which could be the same person). The other option is to keep Quinn-Davidson on as acting mayor until the next regular election in April, after which she could step down immediately or stay on until June 30 when the new mayor would typically take office the next day.
The Assembly made no final decision on how it plans to proceed. Rivera said this will be determined at a later date.