The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly is experiencing a power shuffle since current Borough Mayor Aimee Williams will become the borough manager next month. The Assembly discussed the procedure for finding a new mayor at its meeting last week, but were left with no clean options.
The next local election isn’t until October, so that leaves the Assembly in a fickle position to fill the rest of Williams’ term. Last week, the Borough Assembly voted to open applications for mayor to the public. Williams says this way, they’ll get a bigger pool of qualified candidates.
“I would encourage the Assembly members that are interested to participate in that and we’ll get a true feel,” she said. “If our public comments were correct and we only have those two, then we have truly lost nothing and will be back right where we started.”
Williams was selected as manager in February after 18 months without consistent leadership in the position. She was elected borough mayor in October’s election last year.
Borough code for when a mayor steps down is unclear, and the meeting had a lot of discussion about procedure. Options included choosing a new mayor from current Assembly members, or to hold an open application process. At least one member, Joseph Delgado, expressed interest in being mayor.
Assembly member Scott Smiley was absent from the meeting, and the remaining six present had a split decision. Mayor Williams was asked to break the tie and voted for an open-application process.
The decision was met with mixed reactions from attendees. Kodiak resident Ryan Sharratt favored picking a new mayor from the Assembly, and shared his dissent after the vote.
“This Assembly appears to lack the ability to see progression and fortitude and I have zero confidence in the abilities of this Assembly to appoint a candidate,” he said. “Good luck.”
Others were in favor of the process approved by Assembly members. Annika Woods says she saw no issues with accepting more applicants for mayor.
“I would like to applaud the Assembly for keeping this very transparent from the get-go,” she said. “As previously covered, I don’t think it hurts to open it up to the public.”
Woods also encouraged the Assembly to revise borough code to prevent similar predicaments in the future.
In final comments, Assembly members suggested a special election as well. Others shared concerns about the lack of community interest in public office as well as the lack of diversity in the Assembly.
Williams’ term as mayor ends April 30.