Half the Unalaska city council voted out
All three incumbent Unalaska City Council members were defeated in an election marked by a controversy over the resignation of the city manager.
Dennis Robinson ousted John Waldron, 313 to 273. Shari Coleman, in a 320-to-193 vote, defeated incumbent Rachelle Hatfield, who had been appointed to fill a council vacancy last year. In a three-way contest, Jim Fitch won with 320 votes to 151 for Jeff Treannie, and 111 for incumbent Yudelka Leclere, according to City Clerk Cat Hazen.
Voters Tuesday opposed doubling city sales taxes on alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana by a vote of 273 against. There were 237 votes in support of proposition 1, but that could still theoretically be reversed on Friday, as over 70 absentee, questioned and personal representative votes remain to be counted, according to Hazen.
On Tuesday, 537 people voted, and with the ballots yet uncounted, it is one of the highest turnouts in city history for a local election.
The community was roiled over whether former City Manager David Martinson was pressured to take disciplinary action against Deputy Police Chief Jennifer Shockley, since she circulated an online survey on the city council's performance which she said she did anonymously. The question in the community was, how was it learned where it came from?
The rumors were that Leclere had illegally hacked into Shockley's internet service, in her capacity as the manager of the local GCI cellphone and internet company. Leclere said at a city council meeting that her 12-year-old daughter was traumatically accosted by three people saying her mother was a crook and was going to jail. Leclere said later she was questioned by a local police officer, though she declined to provide details, citing an ongoing investigation.
But another explanation was offered by City Councilor David Gregory, who said that when the survey was first circulated, it contained a contact phone number, which turned out to be Jennifer Shockley's.
A phone message left with Shockley from the Bristol Bay Times-Dutch Harbor Fisherman regarding the issue was not returned.
Gregory said he first heard of the issue at an Ounalashka Corporation barbecue, from staff who were upset with what they saw as an attack on the city council launched by the police department.
All three city council members defended the city council's handling of Martinson's resignation, which they said came at his emailed request as he was negotiating a severance package. However, at an emotional city council meeting attended by about 80 local residents last month, Martinson said he had never offered to resign.
A public records act request from the Dutch Harbor Fisherman for copies of those emails was effectively denied by City Attorney Brooks Chandler. The newspaper did receive outlines of the emails with all the contents blacked out. Chandler said the communications involved personnel issues exempted from the Alaska Public Records Act.
Jim Paulin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org