PALMER—Several local volunteers from the Recall Dunleavy campaign gathered signatures from the public in downtown Palmer on Friday, garnering several supportive encounters and signatures from bystanders to remove Gov. Mike Dunleavy from office.
“Everyone is working together. It is purely a grassroots effort,” Recall Dunleavy volunteer Sheri Thomson said.
This was Thomson’s first time collecting signatures for the recall petition. She stood near the Palmer Train Depot, across the street from Crowley Fuels. Later that afternoon, other volunteers gathered signatures near the tennis courts and baseball fields.
This statewide recall effort was born in the wake of Dunleavy’s more than $440 million in vetoes to the capital budget passed by the legislature. Though on Thursday, Dunleavy signed the legislature’s reverse sweep of his vetoes, the need for the recall still persists, organizers say. The group’s call to action was printed on the back of every signature sheet. The statement of grounds for recall cites several grievances against Dunleavy for “neglect of duties, incompetence, and/or lack of fitness.”
The statement claims that Dunleavy has violated Alaska laws including his refusal to appoint a judge to the Palmer Court within 45 days of nomination, misuse of state funds for “partisan purposes” and improperly using the line-item veto.
It also states that Dunleavy acted incompetently when he “mistakenly” vetoed about $18 million dollars more than he told the legislature he intended to strike.
The petition requires 28,501 signatures, or 10 percent of the number of voters in the state’s last general election to apply with the Division of Elections. After that, 71,252 additional signatures are needed to continue with the recall effort.
Retired Palmer Police Chief George Boatright expressed relief after finding Thomson’s table. He told her he had trouble finding where to go to sign the petition and he looked all over the nearby Friday Fling marketplace.
“You’ve got to be very dedicated to find y’all,” Boatright said. “I’ve got to go home and tell the wife where you’re at.”
Boatwright’s sentiment was common Friday afternoon. Several people cheerily greeted Thomson and said they were going to tell their friend or spouse or family member to come down and sign the petition.
Boatwright said that in spite of being a registered Republican, he wanted Dunleavy out of office. He added that he tends to find himself “pretty much in the middle” of the political spectrum. He said that he supports causes that seem genuine and helpful, regardless of their left or right political status. He said that he has just as much complaint with the extreme left as he does the extreme right.
“It kind of depends who they are, where they’re at, what they stand for,” Boatright said.
Boatright said that one of his biggest issues with Dunleavy was his lack of willingness to compromise in the face of so much opposition. He said that Dunleavy holds town hall meeting only to shut down every contrary idea or thought.
“He is so closed to any kind of opposing opinions that it’s to me scary,” Boatright said. “That strikes me as very much as a dictatorship.”
Lori Koutsky also signed the petition that day. She said that Dunleavy’s actions were dismaying people on both sides. She said that Dunleavy’s lack of willingness to compromise is hurting conservatives just as much as liberals.
Even if the recall effort doesn’t make it to the ballot, Kautsky said she hopes the movement will encourage people to learn how to meet people in the middle.
“It’s not a partisan issue,” Koutsky said.
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at firstname.lastname@example.org