Kasilof man petitions to recall assembly member

A Kasilof resident has filed a petition with the Kenai Peninsula Borough to ask for the recall of assembly member Kelly Wolf on the grounds of incompetence.

 

Chase Duncan, 25, completed phase one of the petition process Monday when he submitted a 200-word petition along with 10 required signatures to the borough clerk’s office. In the petition, Duncan wrote, “Kelly Wolf has demonstrated extreme and egregious incompetence in his elected position.”

Duncan, a Kenai Peninsula College student and U.S. Navy veteran, said he was inspired to do something after he attended the Jan. 20 assembly meeting, the first such meeting he has attended. Duncan was one nearly 30 people who testified in opposition to Wolf’s proposed ordinance to ban marijuana cultivation in the rural areas of the borough.

“This is not a petition for marijuana or marijuana laws,” Duncan said. “Its about fair and competent representation. That being said, his proposed ordinance influenced my direction.”

In his petition, Duncan wrote Alaska doesn’t possess its own definition of incompetence so he cited Cornell University Law School’s legal definition as “a general lack of ability or qualification to do something.” He said the voters have a right to challenge the competency of elected officials when the situation is appropriate.

Wolf, 52, was elected to represent District 1-Kalifornsky in 2012. He is a retired construction contractor and 1979 graduate of Kenai Central High School. He served in the state Legislature as a representative from 2003 to 2006 and is a program coordinator for the Youth Restoration Corps.

Duncan said he decided to go through with the recall petition to make a point about who elected officials work for.

Borough Clerk Johni Blankenship said Duncan’s petition would be reviewed by the legal department to certify whether the grounds for recall are sufficient. She said the borough follows the guidelines in the municipal code to petition a referendum because the code is silent on the recall of elected officials.

According to Alaska statute, voters may recall an elected official after the official has served the first 120 days of the term. The grounds for recall are misconduct in office, incompetence, or failure to perform prescribed duties.

The borough has two weeks to review the application. If approved, Duncan would need to obtain 116 signatures from District 1 voters within 60 days, Blankenship said. The timeline is a factor because a recall petition cannot be filed within 180 days of an official’s term expiration, she said. Wolf’s term is set to expire in October.

If Duncan turns in the petition with the required signatures before April 10, a special election within District 1 would take place to determine Wolf’s future on the assembly. Blankenship said the special election would come at a cost to the borough and the policy recommends the recall to be a vote-by-mail election.

Blankenship said in her time at the borough there were two petitions in 2006 to recall then-Borough Mayor John Williams and assembly member Gary Superman. Both petitions were denied.

Duncan, who is the nephew of Assembly President Dale Bagley, said his uncle has not influenced his action in any way. Duncan said he talked with his uncle, who advised him against the petition, but said it was within his rights.

The assembly is not involved in the recall process, Blankenship said.

Wolf said he is not going to make any comments until the borough attorneys have reviewed the petition.

“It is not a story until it is certified,” he said. “Anybody can do this and get their 15 seconds of fame because they are upset. I have been down this road before. It’s a trial by fire.”

In a previous Clarion interview Wolf said his position on marijuana stems from two friends that committed suicide while using marijuana. He said despite passing statewide, voters in the Kenai Peninsula voted against legalization and he said he is fighting for people that may not want grow operations in their neighborhoods.

The ordinance is set for a public hearing on Feb. 24, the day marijuana is legalized in Alaska. If passed, the question to ban commercial marijuana cultivation outside of borough municipalities will go to voters in a ballot initiative in the October borough election.

 

Reach Dan Balmer at daniel.balmer@peninsulaclarion.com.

More