New Anchorage mayor to be sworn in Saturday

Posted: Thursday, January 01, 2009

ANCHORAGE - With Mayor Mark Begich heading off to Washington, D.C., Anchorage is getting a new mayor.

Assembly Chairman Matt Claman will be sworn in Saturday as acting mayor, a title he will hold until a new mayor elected in April is sworn in July 1.

Begich will be sworn in Tuesday as Alaska's new U.S. senator.

Also on Saturday, Begich will resign as mayor. It's the first time an Anchorage mayor has resigned before his term was up.

Harriet Drum-mond, the Assembly's vice chairwoman, will take over as acting chairwoman.

Claman's position on the Assembly will not be filled.

Under the city charter, he would resume his Assembly seat in July unless he decides to run for mayor and wins.

As acting mayor, Claman will be unable to vote. That leaves 10 votes, which makes the Assembly vulnerable to gridlocks on controversial issues. The municipality's 2009 operating budget and three of four labor contracts approved in recent weeks passed with six-vote majorities.

"Anytime you have an even-numbered body, it's potentially problematic," said Assemblywoman Debbie Ossiander.

Among approaching issues are decisions about bond propositions for the April ballot and the Anchorage School District budget.

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