Editor’s note: This article has been changed to remove any suggestion that the Mat-Su Assembly was seeking approval from the State’s Attorney General Office to impose a borough mask mandate. This is not the case and we regret any confusion our original article caused. Click here to read a detailed clarification on this issue.

With the blessing of the Mat-Su Assembly, Borough Attorney Nicholas Spiropoulos has asked the state’s Acting Attorney General Ed Sniffen to clarify why he believes second-class boroughs such as the Mat-Su can impose mask mandates on borough residents.

The issue came up during the Nov. 17 Assembly meeting after Sniffen recently told reporters that he would support local governments that choose to mandate masks.

…while they are saying they would support municipalities exercising those kinds of powers, that doesn’t mean we legally could.”

Spiropoulos told Assembly members that he had discussed this issue with the attorney general’s office before but it remains unclear whether the Mat-Su, which is a second-class borough with no health powers, has legal authority to implement a mask mandate to deal with COVID.

“We’ve talked to them a couple of times and the analysis for second class boroughs is different than it is for all the other municipalities,” Spiropoulos told the Assembly. “And so I think, while they are saying they would support municipalities exercising those kinds of powers, that doesn’t mean we legally could.”

Spiropoulos then asked the Assembly’s permission to sign a joint letter by attorneys in other second-class boroughs – Fairbanks, Ketchikan, Bristol Bay and Aleutians East – asking the Acting Attorney General Sinffen to explain why he believes second-class boroughs can issue mask mandates.

“Unless the Assembly has a problem with me signing onto that letter, I intend to do that tomorrow and we are going to get that to them and see,” Spiropoulos said. “Because if the state’s really serious about either granting us extra powers or taking up that torch to do that then it has to be something that is a little more formal than just simply talking to the press.”

“So I’m gong to sign onto the letter tomorrow – I see nodding heads,” he added. “Unless I’m told no, I plan on doing that. I’ll keep you posted if there is a response.”

Borough Mayor Vern Halter indicated his support of the letter.

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Mat-Su asks attorney general to clarify why he thinks 2nd-class boroughs can impose mask mandates

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


  • Rhonda Stark says:

    This is almost comical it is so ridiculous. Of all communities that do not need any mask mandate, Palmer is definitely one. People in Palmer wear masks already if needed, and the majority of residents respect businesses that ask customers to wear masks. Go into most any Palmer business and you will see people wearing masks, and if is on the door to do so, they wear them. We do not need any government interference. I believe this is more about new and very insecure council members that must need to feel important and in control. Palmer had a whopping eight cases today and five yesterday. Wasilla also is pretty low. Allow citizens to use their own judgement as they are already doing a good job.

  • Mongo love candy says:

    Vern Halter = RINO POS

  • Gary says:

    Do we have the option to recall our Borough Mayor and Assembly members? They are trying to destroy this community. I never thought this would ever happen in Alaska. South Dakota and Wyoming should be a model for us.

  • Gary says:

    Oops! It looks like Wyoming went off the deep end. At what point are we afforded the option to make our own life decisions? I believe it is a business owners prerogative to determine if masks are warranted in their own establishments. It is up to the individual to decide if they want to enter those facilities. This is NOT a government issue.

  • Dave Bronson says:

    Here is the abstract from the research study in Denmark about the efficacy of wearing masks to control the spread of COVID19. This is the best research available. In short, masks do not impact the spread of COVID19.
    The recommendation to wear surgical masks to supplement other public health measures did not reduce the SARS-CoV-2 infection rate among wearers by more than 50% in a community with modest infection rates, some degree of social distancing, and uncommon general mask use. The data were compatible with lesser degrees of self-protection.”


    Go to the WHO web page. The WHO says wearing masks, AND LOCKDOWNS, are ineffective and cause many more problems than the virus (rise in violence, suicides, divorce, kids not being able to go to school, worry and stress, people losing their jobs, business, life savings, etc.). I have seen only 2 people in stores that were not wearing masks: if everyone is wearing masks, why do we have this uptick in positive cases? Why don’t the health officials go with the science the WHO puts out like they were espousing months ago?
    I suggest that everyone flood the governor’s office to tell him exactly how you feel about all of this. Go to the right side of the page to the box that says, “Contact the governor”, select “Share my views or suggestions”. Do the same with your city officials. Unless we take action, these petty tyrants (not the governor, so far, pray for him to have the strength to stand up to these bullies) will rule all aspects of our lives.

  • Joe says:

    I doubt anyone against masks would be able to explain the role that transcription ribonucleic acid has in viral replication. As far as loss of freedoms try North Korea, Soviet era Russia, or Nazi Germany as opposed to simply wearing a mask to possibly help your fellow man.

    • Lobomalo says:

      It always starts somewhere. Animal Farm is a good read, but it’s typically “For thee, and not for me”. Perhaps you could explain that role, and also the research accompanied with videos, and images showing the exhaled breath (micro droplets) that are blown out from the mask in differing directions at a higher velocity. Soviet era Russia did not evolve to the full communist state over a matter of a short time, nor did Nazi Germany..It evolved due to the people swallowing the lies, and deceptions being fed to them.. Here is a good example of that same ideological transition effort..

  • Joe says:

    Ahhh good old factual breitbart.

    • Lobomalo says:

      I suppose you follow “Good old factual” CNN, MSLSD, ABC, or CBS ? You are welcome to point out the non-factual parts any day.. Enlighten us on the inaccuracies.

  • Mike Hensley says:

    He’s tired of the issue? That’s cute. Most of us are tired of explaining that government doesn’t have the right to force people to wear garments. The point of whether masks work or not (and they don’t) is irrelevant. Nice masks assembly. Do they make them for men?
    What hope do we have of restoring alaska when our own folks here in the Matsu (supposedly a more conservative area) are even considering this. Losers and traitors. I for one will never wear a mask anytime or anywhere regardless of any mandate and neither will my family. It’s that big of a deal to us. Man up Alaska and quit letting people who have no discernable qualifications tell you how to live your life.