A citizen-led recall effort is currently underway to remove three left-leaning Palmer City Council members after a city investigation found they likely violated Alaska law prohibiting elected officials from meeting in quorum to privately discuss matters which they are empowered to act on.

Palmer City Councilwoman Sabrena Combs

Recall advocates started gathering signatures on Nov. 12, after petitions were approved by the city clerk for Council Members Sabrena Combs, Brian Daniels and Jill Valerius. All three, along with former Councilwoman Julie Berberich, were part of a private Facebook group – Mat-Su Moms for Social Justice. The leftist organization advocates for political and social issues such as critical race theory, community oversight of police, mask mandates, Black Lives Matter protest marches and more.

According to a city financed investigation, conducted by attorney Scott Brandt-Erichsen and sent to Palmer City Manager John Moosey on Sept. 15, the council members in question engaged in behavior that raised “serious concerns.”

One instance in particular was most troubling, according to Brandt-Erichsen. In late October 2020 there was a Facebook thread about a proposed mask mandate being pushed by the four council members. The full city council later took the issue up at a Nov. 8 meeting which generated considerable public opposition and was ultimately rejected after multiple nights of extended and passionate public outcry.

“I believe that a court would find that the discourse in the Facebook group with a quorum of the city council members participating, even if not fully debating the public policy issue, constituted a meeting under the OMA (Open Meetings Act),” Brandt-Erichsen said in his report. “Further, I believe that a court deciding the issue would find that the lack of public access and notice for that meeting violated the OMA.”

Palmer City Councilwoman Jill Valerius

Brandt-Erichsen said the Alaska Supreme Court has clarified that a “meeting” includes “every step in the deliberative and decision-making process when a governmental unit meets to transact business,” and he concluded that there is a “substantial likelihood that the Alaska courts would follow this reasoning” and find that the Palmer City Council members did, indeed, break the law.

Since the Alaska Supreme Court has held that compliance with the Open Meetings Act is a “duty of office,” Brandt-Erichsen said “violation of that duty is sufficient grounds to form the basis for a recall petition.”

Recall petitioners now have until Jan. 11, 2022, to gather at least 169 signatures from qualified City of Palmer voters in order to put the recall question to a vote.

Cindy Hudgins is one of three signature gatherers, and she could use some help from registered City of Palmer voters.

“We could use as many as we can get,” she said. “The more we have the sooner we can get this done.”

Hudgins said she hopes to get a few Palmer business owners on board at petition sponsors so they can help gather signatures at local storefronts. The goal is to get at least 300 signatures, but more would make a strong statement, she said.

“I know the girl who I’m working with – she wants a 1,000 because she wants them to see that we have this much support, and they might as well resign now,” Hudgins said.

Ultimately, Hudgins said the recall effort is about restoring faith in Palmer politics.

Palmer City Councilman Brian Daniels

“We’re looking for integrity and honesty,” she said. “With the secrecy that went on with this – planning things to bring up to the board behind the backs of citizens of Palmer – it wasn’t right, and we would like to have open transparency in our city council where things are discussed at a meeting, and where the people have a chance to speak.”

The wording of all three recall petitions is nearly identical, claiming that Valerius, Combs and Daniels violated the Open Meetings Act which demonstrates a “failure to perform duties of office and is a legal ground for recall.”

The petitions state that from “October 13, 2020, to mid-Summer 2021, a quorum of Palmer City Council knowingly engaged in discussions relating to future council business, meant for deliberation at future council meetings, in a closed Facebook group with partiality. Council members Brian Daniels, Sabrena Combs, Jill Valerius, and Julie Berberich engaged in meetings or serial discussions, and according to a legal review were found to have violated OMA on at least one occasion.”

The petitions add that the council members engaged in “numerous discussions relating to council business” and lists the number of discussions for each person.

The controversy over the alleged violations spilled over at the Nov. 9 Palmer City Council Meeting when Councilman Richard Best called on the three members to tender their resignations immediately.

“With the release of all the documents, the acceptance of the recall petitions, I will now ask for the resignations of those members who are still on this body to submit immediately, so the City of Palmer can move forward,” he said in his closing comments. “That way we can stop spending citizens’ money on chasing the tail of this thing. It went on for over a year. I’m done.”

Fellow Councilmember Pamela Melin, who narrowly defeated Julie Berberich in the recent October election, said the City Council should formally reprimand Daniels, Combs and Valerius for their actions.

If Palmer residents are successful in the recall attempts, it would mean that all four left-leaning councilmembers would be ousted following a one-year period in which the conservative block was a 4-3 minority on the seven-member council.


— Click here for the latest announcements of the recall Facebook page.

— Contact recall petitioner Cindy Hudgins at (907) 982-0056.

Click here to support Alaska Watchman reporting.

Recall effort begins for Palmer City Council members who allegedly violated open meetings

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.


  • Neil DeWitt says:

    It’s about time these three face the music. It was beginning to look like they were going to get away with what they did.

    • DoneWithIt says:

      Sabrena us a hypocrite – right after the mask mandate vote in Palmer, where hundreds turned out and overwhelmed city hall – she was in the parking lot at a local restaurant without a mask, came into the restaurant without a mask and sat down. I went up to her and called her a hypocrite to her face.
      Jill is known as a granola cruncher.
      And Brian – I honestly don’t know what’s up with him???
      Let’s Go Brandon!

  • MHS says:

    I am amazed any of them are in there to begin with. None of them are old enough to have any real life experiance. Palmer voters need to start paying attention before they end up with a bunch of juvenile delinquents running the city, as that’s practically what they have now.

  • Jon says:

    Wake up before it’s too late. In Anchorage we are suffering greatly as a result of falling asleep and letting the leftists get total control. Recall these people and don’t allow evil to get a foothold. If you allow them to rule, it will be a long uphill battle to overturn what evil does. Mayor Bronson is trying but it’s extremely hard. I know it’s a sacrifice to go to school board meetings, community council meetings, assembly meetings, etc. but it’s worth it!

  • Ralph says:

    What Recall effort has actually worked… there is something fishy going on..

    • EscapedAnchorage says:

      Dunleavys recall doesn’t count because it never went to vote. The fishiness is Anchorage’s vote by mail, Felix and Meg probably cheated

  • Vonda Sanders says:

    Glad to hear!! Enough is enough.

  • Palmer resident says:

    Thanks for reporting on this Joel. I will be signing the petition.

  • Edward Jr Martin says:

    If the Palmer residents would demand PUBLIC OFFICAL BONDS for all of their elected & appointed officials these issues of Malfeasance in office would more then likely stop and no recall would come at the expense of the public ! See attached web site that explains Public Official Bonds
    Good luck with your recall otherwise !

  • jh says:

    LGBTQ mafia ?

  • jh says:

    A different gender stuck in the wrong body? :–)

  • JC says:

    Throw the bums out!

  • NAV says:

    Excellent now its up to the citizens of the valley to set the standard, enough is enough of these three’s “BS” !!!!

  • Proud Alaskan says:

    Let the signings begin

  • jh says:

    Alaska does not want a dysfunctional, leftist city council who always has a radical, hidden agenda.
    Anchorage is riddled with homelessness and drug use and has the highest crime rates in America, caused by the leftist Anchorage city council – literally a political wrecking ball!

  • Bob says:

    Get rid of idiots like these from alaskan politics! We want normal alaskans representing us, not these wolves in sheep clothing