Delta Junction go to polls in recall effort

Posted: Tuesday, July 10, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Voters in Delta Junction will go the polls Tuesday to decide whether two city council members should be recalled.

Organizers of the recall campaign allege that Roy Gilbertson and Susan Kemp bungled the city's efforts to construct a private prison and misappropriated Office of Economic Adjustment funds to pay legal bills.

Cleeta Barger and Totsie Pursey have not wavered from their position that several city council members -- including those facing recall -- were derelict in their duties.

Pursey said the fact that the prison issue is dead doesn't mean the recall petitions are any less valid.

Kemp and Gilbertson were allowed up to 200 words on the ballot to rebut the charges.

The two remind voters that the prison project was eventually found to be financially unfeasible for the city, and had the city followed through on the original contract, it would still have failed.

''So much agony over the prison would have been avoided if an independent financial feasibility study had been earlier funded,'' Gilbertson wrote.

Both also denied the council improperly spent OEA funds.

Kemp, a long-time supporter of a prison or other institutional replacement for Fort Greely, said she has trouble understanding why anyone would believe she would try to sabotage a community where she has lived for 50 years. She said the council did its best in a difficult situation, operating on the information available.

''The course we took was the only one we could have taken,'' Kemp told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. ''We may have made some mistakes along the way, but ultimately it was not a feasible project.''

Gilbertson, who has largely ignored the negative comments directed toward him regarding the prison issue, said Citizens for the Advancement of Delta is a group of people that involved themselves so deeply in the prison issue they cannot look beyond that.

''I don't think they're willing to look back and say, 'That could not happen,''' Gilbertson said.



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