Almost 70 Unalaskans Sign Petition To Recall Dunleavy From Office

Aug 5, 2019

A poster advertising Saturday's petition-signing event hangs on the bulletin board at the Unalaska post office.
Credit Laura Kraegel/KUCB

As a statewide recall effort got underway last week, 68 Unalaskans signed their names to the petition targeting Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

The local signatures were collected Saturday by resident Sharon Svarny-Livingston. She said Unalaskans cited a range of frustrations with Dunleavy as they stopped by the Burma Road Chapel to endorse the recall application alleging the governor has acted incompetently, violated state laws, and misused state funds.

"People are so excited when they're coming in the door," said Svarny-Livingston. "They're saying, 'Yes! Let me sign this! Right now!'"

In June, Dunleavy unveiled a series of line-item vetoes that cut about $400 million from the state budget. The steep hits to the university system, health care, and other public services have spurred criticism around the state.

Svarny-Livingston said she joined the recall effort because of the education cuts, which she believes will have a "heavy" impact on rural communities.

"We are doing something drastically wrong if we're going to be cutting education," she said. "I think rural Alaska has been a huge supporter of the state of Alaska for many, many years in fisheries and other areas, and I don't think that's recognized by this new administration."

The number of Unalaska signatures represents about 10 percent of the local voter turnout for the 2018 election. 

Meanwhile, organizers in more than a dozen Alaska communities are also collecting signatures for the recall application — from Anchorage and Fairbanks to Ketchikan and Bethel. On Friday, the Recall Dunleavy campaign announced it had gathered more 10,000 signatures across the state.

The first phase of the recall process requires the signatures of 28,501 Alaskans to advance the petition to the Division of Elections for review and certification.

After that, organizers would need a second petition with signatures from 25 percent of the electorate that turned out for last year's election. In this case, that is more than 71,000. Then, the second-round petition would need to be certified before Alaska could hold a special recall election 60 to 90 days later.

A spokesperson for the administration said Dunleavy was "elected as an agent of change" "focused on addressing the challenges that many before him have been unwilling to tackle." The spokesperson also said that a recall campaign attempt is "part of being an elected official."

Alaska's last formal recall effort against a sitting governor was in 1992. That effort against Wally Hickel was dropped.