Internet Explorer 11 is not supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Amid Huge Budget Cuts, Many Alaskans Mount Effort to Recall Governor

Led by an Alaska Native spiritual healer and a former coal mine operator, thousands of Alaskans across party lines are teaming up to recall GOP Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

By Ben Kesslen

Aug. 3 was a busy day in Unalaska, the Aleutian Islands town of 4,500 people, 800 miles southwest of Anchorage, that sits between the Bering Sea and the North Pacific.

There was the golf classic, which resident Sharon Svarny-Livingston said is probably the westernmost golf classic in the world, and a potluck for the traditional subsistence camp, which teaches local youth how to use traditional indigenous knowledge and Western science hand-in-hand. Still the 66-year-old decided to add another item to the schedule of this remote town where she says there is always “too much to do”: a drive to gather signatures to recall the state’s governor, Mike Dunleavy.

Dunleavy campaigned on raising the state’s annual oil wealth dividend that each Alaska resident receives annually. Less than a year into his term, however, the governor caused a firestorm when he vetoed 182 line-items from the state budget, totaling more than $440 million — in part to fund the dividend. The cuts slashed $130 million, or 41 percent of state funding, to the University of Alaska system and tens of millions from Medicaid, and significantly reduced senior services and public education funding. They also leave Alaska in the unique position of being the only state without an arts agency.

After the cuts were announced, members of Dunleavy’s own party turned against the Republican governor, and Alaskans worried about what would become of their home. A decimated university, some feared, would cause a brain drain. Others wondered how they would afford health care and education, and people grew concerned about how cuts to homeless shelters and addiction treatment might affect their cities. Republicans and Democrats tried to come together and override some of the vetoes, but they ultimately fell short. So, residents like Svarny-Livingston decided to take matters into their own hands by launching a recall effort.

Special Projects
Sponsored Stories
Sponsored
In this episode, Marianne Steger explains why health care for Pre-Medicare retirees and active employees just got easier.
Sponsored
Government organizations around the world are experiencing the consequences of plagiarism firsthand. A simple mistake can lead to loss of reputation, loss of trust and even lawsuits. It’s important to avoid plagiarism at all costs, and government organizations are held to a particularly high standard. Fortunately, technological solutions such as iThenticate allow government organizations to avoid instances of text plagiarism in an efficient manner.
Sponsored
Creating meaningful citizen experiences in a post-COVID world requires embracing digital initiatives like secure and ethical data sharing, artificial intelligence and more.
Sponsored
GHD identified four themes critical for municipalities to address to reach net-zero by 2050. Will you be ready?
Sponsored
As more state and local jurisdictions have placed a priority on creating sustainable and resilient communities, many have set strong targets to reduce the energy use and greenhouse gases (GHGs) associated with commercial and residential buildings.
Sponsored
As more people get vaccinated and states begin to roll back some of the restrictions put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic — schools, agencies and workplaces are working on a plan on how to safely return to normal.
Sponsored
The solutions will be a permanent part of government even after the pandemic is over.
Sponsored
See simple ways agencies can improve the citizen engagement experience and make online work environments safer without busting the budget.
Sponsored
Whether your agency is already a well-oiled DevOps machine, or whether you’re just in the beginning stages of adopting a new software development methodology, one thing is certain: The security of your product is a top-of-mind concern.