With early voting in Palmer now underway to recall three far-left city council members, political lines have been drawn in the small Mat-Su town.

From left, Palmer City Council Members Sabrena Combs, Brian Daniels and Jill Valerius are up for a recall vote on April 19.

Many community leaders, on both the left and right, have taken opposing sides on the recall election, which began with early voting on April 4. The most recent campaign disclosures show each side drawing money from well-known movers and shakers in the community.

As of March 22, the pro-recall group has brought in $7,150 from 11 donors. These include a number of prominent, conservative business owners. The anti-recall side has received $6,227 from 29 donors, most of whom are vocal supporters of left-leaning activism that has developed in the Mat-Su area in recent years.

One surprising opponent of the recall is Mat-Su Assemblyman Jesse Sumner. Generally regarded as a conservative, Sumner donated $500 to oppose recalling City Council Members Sabrena Combs, Brian Daniels and Jill Valerius.

The recall effort was sparked after discovering that Combs, Daniels and Valerius, along with former Councilwoman Julie Berberich, were all part of a private Facebook group – Mat-Su Moms for Social Justice. The leftist organization advocates for issues such as critical race theory, community oversight of police, city mask mandates, Black Lives Matter protest marches and other causes.

According to the city financed investigation, the council members in question discussed mask mandates and other controversial matters in the private online group. The investigation concluded 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.

Mat-Su Assemblyman Jesse Sumner

While Sumner said he “hates to give money to Democrats,” he opposes the recall because he believes most recalls simply undermine the effectiveness of elected officials.

“If you elect people, you expect them to have the backbone to do what they said they’re going to do, and if they’re going to face a recall every time they do something that somebody doesn’t agree with, then you’re never going to get anybody that ever does anything,” he said. “I don’t think you should be violating the Open Meetings Act, but I think we should reserve recalls for exceptional things, like if someone is embezzling money and committing a violation of the criminal code.”

He added that his donation to the anti-recall group should not be interpreted as supporting the political policies of the three councilmembers who are up for a vote.

“I totally disagree with their policies, and I hope they lose re-election, but I think it should be at the general and not a recall election,” he said.

Pro-recall advocates couldn’t disagree more with Sumner’s stance.

“So, breaking ethics and breaking the Alaska Open Meetings Act should have no consequences?” said Cindy Hudgins, who is spearheading the recall push. “If Sumner thinks it’s not a big deal, then I don’t trust him either.”

She noted that in 1983, there were four members of the Palmer City Council who were recalled after privately discussing city business in the local Valley Hotel.

“The Open Meetings Act has been in place for decades and these council members are well-trained in this,” Hudgins said of Combs, Daniels and Valerius. “They knew exactly what they were doing. They were sneaking and conniving and we don’t want them in our council.”

Hudgins said the three council members in question have essentially broken trust with the people they are supposed to represent.

“They really didn’t think they were going to have any opposition to what they were doing,” she said. “They thought we were a sleepy little town where no one was paying attention. Well, there were enough of us paying attention.”


— Early, in-person voting for the recall election will be held Monday through Friday beginning on April 4 (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) at City Hall (231 W. Evergreen Ave., Palmer, AK 99645).

— On election day (April 19) in-person polling will be at the Mat Su Borough building (350 East Dahlia Ave, Palmer). Those who live in Precinct 11-070 should go to the Borough Assembly Chambers. Those in Precinct 11-075 can vote in the Mat Su Borough Gym.

— Those who wish to vote by mail must request a ballot by filling out an application for an Absentee By-Mail Ballot. The request for an absentee ballot must be received by the City Clerk’s Office no later than Friday, April 8, by 4 p.m.

Click here to learn more about the recall effort.

— For additional information about the upcoming recall election, visit the City of Palmer Elections page or call the City Clerk’s Office at (907) 761-1301.

Click here to support Alaska Watchman reporting.

Political lines form in push to recall leftist Palmer City Council members

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.


  • Mongo Love Candy says:

    Not the first time Sumner has shown his true colors.

  • J. Henry says:

    There wouldn’t have to be recall IF the guilty parties admitted their guilt and resigned.

    • Mama Bullwinkle says:

      Wow! Assemblyman Jesse Sumner you are hereby put on notice that you and your MSB actions will now be watched. Borderline illegal behavior by electes officials should have swift consequences! Not put off until people forget and then re-elect them.

  • DoneWithIt says:

    Sumner has to go. Bye Felicia.
    If the CommieLibs on the council disobey important rules, they MUST be relieved of their duties. They were conspiring against our basic civil liberties.
    Sumner has really softened up over the years – it’s time to run him in the next election.

  • Hohn says:

    Jesse Sumner is either a fool or a bad actor, regardless he shouldn’t be any part of politics. People better start waking up.

  • Ceak says:

    Sumner will never get my vote after this. Even if he disagrees with the reasoning, he shouldn’t be funding efforts against it.

  • Proud Alaskan says:

    The people have spoken colony days are back, now it’s time to speak with our votes.

    • kris spencer says:

      Absolutely, 100%! I mean, holy cow!!!!!!!! Look at the volume of voices that came out in opposition to the war on Colony Days/Colony Christmas. If ALL those people showed up to vote, it would be no contest! The vast majority of people do not want far-left minded politics. They made that abundantly clear over the weekend. They WON! They can take the next step and win again at the polls.

  • Andrew says:

    People need to get out and vote, the voter turnout has been pathetic everywhere.

  • Elizabeth Henry says:

    Jesse Sumner is very conservative and his position on this is not unreasonable. The open meetings law is good but it is also confusing. I have read it and also have served on advisory committee(s) and it is a big deal and affects much. It is not difficult to violate it in some way and I would say many have without even realizing it. Try sticking your neck out and serving on a committee, a board or run for office – then do your best to follow open meetings to the T. Reserve judgement until you have walked in those shoes.

    I absolutely want to see these three council members replaced but agree with Jesse. I would vote for him again but I believe he is ineligible for re-election due to term limit. He has the courage to do those hard things and is not afraid to speak up even if he is going against the sheep flow.

  • Jorge says:

    Im trying to understand Jesse Sumner’s position as I read it here. He has been in office for some time and just now comes out on his feelings regarding the open meetings law? He was elected by a majority of voters to oversee, abide by and enforce these laws?
    Why did he enter a political race in which he felt he could not abide by the lawful rules and regulations of office of the City of Palmer?
    Why did he not voice his concerns to the citizens of Palmer before he was elected?
    After being elected why did he not go to the citizens of Palmer with a new set of parameters to correct what he and Elizabeth Henry deem as unworkable?
    These rules and regulations were put into being for a good reason, to prevent what just occurred in Palmer politics, illegal, deceitful, politically partisan meetings out of the purview of the citizens eye and knowledge.
    As a citizen Mr. Sumner has the right to vote his conscious. That said he took an oath to represent and uphold the rules, regulations and laws of the office he was elected to. Also, and not least of all to thoughtfully and respectfully represent the citizen’s positions who elected him to that position of authority over them.
    I feel one could agree with Mr. Sumner’s point of view regarding the meetings act had he just stayed in his lane with his points of view. I feel the donation of a sizable amount of money to what he states as his supposed political opponent shows a discernible lack of honesty and judgement.
    The donation of $500.00.
    Subjectively the people being recalled are his professed opponents. His actions present quite a glaring lapse of critical thought process. His actions present such a dichotomy. How can one donate $500.00 to your political opponents and hope they lose? Makes no sense.
    Pam Henry. Your name calling “sheep” of the majority of voters is distasteful. It shows your true colors and your lack of ability to subjective debate and free speech, a cornerstone of the Constitutional Republic of the United States of America, a Republic we are blessed to live in. Perhaps after you remove yourself from the flock you are in you will be able to discern why there are laws enacted by the people and for the people.It is your right to thoughtfully disagree with rules and laws. It is your right to thoughtfully and legally effect change if you disagree but I feel you are being dishonorable and deceitful by flaunting them.
    Proud American

  • Proud American says:

    I wish to make a correction on my comments. I wrote “ability to subjective debate”. I meant to say “ability to objective debate.” Please correct my comments.
    Respectfully submitted,
    Proud American

  • Fedup says:

    I’m in Jesse’s district. I supported him without hesitation. Why is it that every time in Alaska when I put my support behind someone who mouths conservative talk I get made a fool of. Dunleavy is exhibit A. Sumner is gone if I have anything to do with it and I think I do. Fool me once etc.

  • kris spencer says:

    YOU who Vote in Palmer…talk to your friends and neighbors who also live in this voting district. Remind them of what is at stake. Help them see how they WON the war against Colony Days…they can win this one, too just by showing up to vote. These 3 persons who violated the law are the same ones who wanted to do away with Colony Days. The ones who wanted lock downs and masks. It almost happened…it was very close! The vast majority of Palmer doesn’t want this stuff. If they only voted, they’d win again, by a landslide.

  • Robert Schenker says:

    Wow, I am shocked at the outrage directed towards the Palmer Chamber of Commerce over the the Colony Day’s name change. While I wholeheartedly agree with those who were outraged, I have to wonder why we didn’t see a similar response from the public over the State Chamber’s endorsement of the failed m-RNA experimental jab. Remember the $ 49,000 prize incentive offered by the Chamber?

  • Auto zone says:

    I didn’t realize there are so many snowflakes in Palmer. These three should be recalled for what? Is moms for social justice some criminal political undertow worthy of such venom? These are our neighbors! They just have benignly different view of things. Criminals like Trump should have been “recalled” (and sorta was – twice impeached), but community members that want a say in how the police operate; that’s worthy of recall?