Anchorage Assembly chairman Ernie Hall fired a key planner in the troubled April 3 election Wednesday, though the city clerk responsible for overseeing the election remains on the job. Hall said he told deputy clerk Jacqueline Duke she was being dismissed Wednesday. The city clerk and deputy clerk are among the employees who serve at the will of the Assembly. Hall made the decision to remove Duke himself but had been talking with other assembly members about it, he said. The city clerk’s office oversees elections and came under fire this year after ballots ran out at more than half of all voting precincts on April 3. On Tuesday, the assembly voted to pay a retired judge $35,000 to investigate what went wrong and recommend ways to avoid similar problems in the future.
Duke was instrumental in planning the election. Her boss, municipal clerk Barbara Gruenstein, was not fired. Hall did not say why he removed Duke but not Gruenstein. “I’m not going into that,” he said.
Hall said Duke’s dismissal was not based on the chaotic election alone. He refused to say what other issues precipitated her removal. “She has a lot of fine qualities,” he said. “We just needed to make a change at the deputy clerk’s office.” Duke will be paid until the end of the month. The position will eventually be replaced through an open hiring process, Hall said.