The sponsors behind three Haines Assembly recall petitions turned in their signatures Tuesday afternoon.
Don Turner Jr. told KHNS he collected ‘more than enough’ signatures to initiate recall votes for Tom Morphet, Tresham Gregg and Heather Lende.
Borough clerk Julie Cozzi has 10 days to review the signatures. Each petition requires 258 valid signatures to trigger a special election.
The recall sponsors turned in the petitions about a week before their deadline of June 12.
The petitions were drawn up on the basis of two allegations: that assembly members violated the Alaska Open Meetings Act and misused their official positions.
The open meetings allegation stems from an email Gregg sent to Lende. In it, Gregg says he spoke with two other assembly members, Morphet and Ron Jackson, about an upcoming vote on the harbor expansion project. Public officials having a series of private conversations about a public matter is a gray area in open meetings law.
The misuse of official position allegation comes from Lende and Morphet’s comments about the police blotter. The two assembly members objected to Police Chief Heath Scott’s decision to limit information in the blotter, which is published in the local newspaper. Morphet owned the newspaper at the time and Lende writes obituaries for it.
Haines’ borough attorney and clerk emphasized that it was not their purview to investigate the claims, but to let the public decide.
If the recall signatures are deemed sufficient, the Haines Borough will hold a special election.
Morphet and Lende were elected to the assembly less than a year ago. Gregg was elected in 2015.
Over the last several weeks, the Haines Assembly has seen two voluntary departures. Margaret Friedenauer resigned last week, citing Haines’ increasingly difficult political climate. Mike Case resigned in April following a contentious borough manager hire.
So, the assembly currently has one open seat and five members: one recently appointed whose term is up in October, another elected in 2014 who does not plan to run this fall, and three who may be at risk of losing their seats in a recall vote.