The effort to remove three far-left Palmer City Council members has continued throughout the holidays with volunteers still gathering needed signatures to place Sabrena Combs, Brian Daniels and Jill Valerius on the ballot for a recall vote.
“The gathering of signatures is going great!” recall organizer Cindy Hudgins reported on Dec. 28. “We have over 200 at this point, but we’ll keep gathering until I have to turn them in on January 11th. We want everyone to know what’s been going on so they know we will have an election coming up.”
Recall petitioners have until Jan. 11, 2022, to gather at least 169 verified signatures from qualified City of Palmer voters in order to put the recall question to a vote. Since a certain percentage of signatures are typically thrown for technical reasons, Hudgins said she is hoping to amass at least 300 or more to ensure the recall effort is successful.
Council members targeted in the recall were the focus of a city-initiated investigation earlier this year, which found that they likely violated Alaska law prohibiting elected officials from meeting in quorum to privately discuss matters they are empowered to act on.
Combs, Daniels and Valerius, 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 other causes.
According to the city financed investigation, conducted by attorney Scott Brandt-Erichsen 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.
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Brandt-Erichsen concluded that a court would likely find that the council members’ private discourse in a closed Facebook group was a violation of Alaska’s Open Meetings Act, and a failure to perform their duties of office.
The wording of all three recall petitions is nearly identical, stating 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 participated in “numerous discussions relating to council business” and lists the number of discussions for each person.
— Click here for the latest announcements of the recall Facebook page.
— Contact recall petitioner Cindy Hudgins at (907) 982-0056.