HOUSTON - A mayor's trip to Fairbanks could drive him right out of office.
Houston resident Kathleen Baken-Barney claims Mayor Roger Purcell improperly used emergency flashing lights when he and his wife took a city police car on the long drive north to deliver a grant application in December. She and other supporters of a recall effort have until April 8 to return a petition with at least 73 signatures from registered voters in the small city near Anchorage.
A portion of the mayor's trip to Fairbanks was captured by a camera mounted on the patrol car. Video footage of the alleged violation, which can be seen on YouTube, shows only a few seconds of flashing lights, and does not show Purcell's face.
According to the recall application approved Monday, the use of flashing lights to pass other vehicles "displays a gross misconduct in office, incompetence and a failure to perform those duties as prescribed by willfully and knowingly operating an emergency vehicle contrary to (code) and as such he should be recalled."
Purcell will have the opportunity to issue his own 200-word statement responding to the allegations.
In an interview with the Mat-Su Valley Frontierman, he declined to confirm or deny the use of emergency lights. The mayor said he made the trip to Fairbanks to hand-deliver a grant application after spending more than 100 hours of his own time completing the 4-inch-thick document. He expects a decision on the grant in the next few weeks, and the city stands to get $398,000 if it is awarded to Houston.
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