Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson made another polarizing choice to lead the city’s library system after the Assembly rejected his first choice.
Bronson announced Friday that he had chosen Judy Norton Eledge, a former teacher and literacy advocate who is also a Conservative activist.
Eledge narrowly lost an Anchorage School Board race earlier this year, in which she drew attention to posts from a Facebook account under her name that linked gay and transgender people to pedophilia, announced Eledge and her husband on a plane during the pandemic without masks and complained about Alaskan bush communities “getting everything and having no taxes and almost everything paid for them.”
Eledge, long-time president of the Anchorage Republican Women’s Club, later admitted to writing some of them, but claimed that others had been edited as part of a smear campaign.
Bronson, in a statement prepared Friday, acknowledged that some members of the Assembly “would hesitate to appoint Judy.”
Downtown Assembly Member Christopher Constant described the appointment as a “sad day for the city of Anchorage”.
“Basically it’s clear that the mayor’s only interest here is to stoke political fires, not to do what’s best for the people of Anchorage,” he said.
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Midtown Coven member Felix River was also skeptical.
“Let’s just say she has a bit of a colorful past of making interesting remarks,” he said. “So it makes me wonder if Ms. Eledge was chosen for this post because of her political history or her professional history. “
RELATED: The Anchorage Assembly rejected Bronson’s choice for senior librarian, then he appointed her chief of staff
Bronson ‘said Eledge’s experience was the reason for his choice, which his office described as nearly 50 years in education, including teaching in rural and urban school districts. Eledge has also served on the State Board of Education, the City Health and Human Services Commission and the Alaska State Commission on Juvenile Justice, the office said. by Bronson.
“Our administration will continue to champion the leadership of libraries which we believe will best facilitate and promote literacy and lifelong learning,” Bronson said in a statement.
Related: Bronson administration says it will seek new chief librarian in Anchorage
But the Assembly must confirm the director of the Bronson library. Earlier this week, he rejected Bronson’s previous choice of Sami Graham, a former principal who members said did not have the specific experience or qualifications for the position of library director. After Graham’s rejection, Bronson announced that she would be his new chief of staff and spend some of her time working in the library.
Several members of the Assembly wondered how Eledge’s appointment would lead to a different result than Graham, who was rejected by 7-4.
“After all of the feedback we received from the community regarding qualifications and wanting to make sure we had a qualified library manager, I was quite surprised to see someone who, to my knowledge so far, did not has none of these qualifications. Said Austin Quinn-Davidson, Assembly Member from West Anchorage.
The Assembly must vote to approve the appointment of Eledge within six months.
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