- Associated Press - Friday, July 14, 2017

PETERSBURG, Alaska (AP) - Four of the six members of an Alaska borough assembly could be facing a recall election.

A group of residents from the Petersburg borough has submitted applications seeking a recall petition for assembly members Jeigh Stanton Gregor, Nancy Strand, Kurt Wohlhueter and Eric Castro.

The application alleges the members violated Alaska’s Open Meetings Act at a May 30 meeting of the borough assembly by going into a closed-door, executive session, KFSK.org (https://bit.ly/2tR1uTp ) reported Thursday.

That session was to discuss the re-organization of the borough department heads following the retirement last month of Power and Light superintendent Joe Nelson.

The applicants allege the reasons given for the closed door session were not specific enough and did not qualify for executive session under state law.

“Basically there are some exemptions that allow you to go into executive session but none of those qualifications were met,” said Gary Morgan, Petersburg Municipal Power and Light employee and one of the primary contacts on the recall application.

State law sets specific reasons for an elected body like a borough assembly to hold a meeting closed to the public.

Morgan does not think the May 30th meeting met those standards.

“Financial, it has to have a direct and adverse effect on the borough’s finances,” he said. “In this case having this meeting in the open wasn’t going to cost the borough any money. It’s a proposed restructuring. Personnel issues, you have specifically say one person or multiple people and those people have the right to decide if this is aired publicly if they so chose, or go into executive session. No one was named.”

Under Alaska state law, grounds for recall are misconduct in office, incompetence or failure to perform prescribed duties.

If recall petitions are issued, residents would have 60 days to collect signatures. State law also sets time frames for when a special election would be required or if the question can appear on a general election ballot.

Petersburg’s last recall vote was in 2009, when Lee Corrao was removed from the city council. That too was for allegations of violating state open meeting law.

The borough’s attorney is reviewing the applications.

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