The Borough Assembly requests its attorney weigh-in on whether one of its members has a conflict of interest

The City of Kodiak sign at the Kodiak Island Borough Building. (Photo by Mitch Borden/KMXT)

Mitch Borden/KMXT

The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly is looking into whether or not one of its assembly members has a conflict of interest. Earlier this year, Assemblyman Matthew Van Daele was hired to be the city of Kodiak’s deputy city manager.

Some assembly members aren’t completely comfortable with this and want to know if his employment could be a problem for the borough.

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The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly is looking into whether Assemblyman Matthew Van Daele’s job as the deputy city manager of Kodiak constitutes a conflict of interest with some of his duties on the assembly.

Four assembly members at a recent work session supported asking the Borough’s Attorney for a legal opinion on the issue. Assemblyman Kyle Crow was one of them and says one thing this opinion will help with is clarity.   

“It’s often confusing to know what position is being taken. Whether it’s the city position or the individual assembly member’s position. And that’s the real problem right there is that who’s being represented.”

He says this isn’t a personal attack on Van Daele. It’s just meant to make it clear if Van Daele should or should not work on topics where the municipalities interests intersect.

“Whether or not the relationship that the assemblymember has with the city is appropriate for the assemblymember to be participating in discussions and voting on issues that impact his employer and then also impact the residents of the borough. And if there are conflicts with that position then that person needs to be recused clearly and those situations need to be identified.”

The legal opinion won’t just center around Van Daele. Crow says it’ll also give the assembly an idea of what it should do in similar situations.

It turns out, the borough assembly isn’t the only group interested in getting a legal opinion on whether Van Daele has a conflict of interest. The City of Kodiak also asked its legal counsel to weigh in on the issue.

In a memo to the city manager, Kodiak’s attorney wrote they did not find a code or law that prohibited Van Daele from working for the city and serving on the assembly. They did recommend getting an opinion from the borough’s attorney and reviewing the situation after Van Daele has been deputy city manager for six months.

The city’s attorney did point out though, Van Daele shouldn’t contribute in any capacity on issues dealing with the potential consolidation of the city and the borough. The attorney also said if there are a lot of overlapping interests found, “The deputy should be required to choose between the two positions.”

KMXT reached out to Assemblyman Van Daele about the situation. He says he looks forward to hearing from the borough’s attorney and having the issue cleared up.

The assembly believes it’ll receive the legal opinion soon. Once it does, it’ll decide whether it will make the findings public.

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