Anchorage Democrat meets residency rules, judge says

“The result of the November 2022 election is accepted…”

An Anchorage Democrat who won a November state House race meets residency requirements to take office, a state court judge ruled Monday.

Superior Court Judge Herman Walker Jr. issued the ruling more than two weeks after hearing the case challenging Democrat Jennifer “Jennie” Armstrong’s eligibility to serve in the Legislature, and just over a week before the new legislative session begins.

The challenge was brought by Republican Liz Vazquez, who lost the Anchorage House race to Armstrong. She was joined by four others who had filed a prior challenge to Armstrong’s eligibility that was dismissed in November by Walker on procedural grounds.

Vazquez, in her lawsuit, asked that Walker declare her the winner of the election. Vazquez is a former state lawmaker.

The lawsuit pointed to a social media post it said was made by Armstrong, fishing license applications and when Armstrong registered to vote. It alleged that Armstrong had not been a resident of Alaska for at least three years immediately before filing to run for office — and was therefore not qualified to hold the office.

Under the state constitution, to serve in the legislature one must be a “qualified voter who has been a resident of Alaska for at least three years and of the district from which elected for at least one year, immediately preceding his filing for office.”

The filing deadline was June 1.

Armstrong said in court proceedings and in an affidavit that she moved to Alaska on May 20, 2019. She said that is the date she and her now-husband discussed and decided she would move in with him in Anchorage. She testified that her social media posts weren’t always contemporaneous and that a 2022 fishing license application tracing her residency to May 2019 was more precise than prior applications.

She said she had not considered running for office until May 2022 and that that was “the first time that I had to determine the exact day that I moved to Alaska.”

Walker, in his order, said he found that Armstrong became a resident of Alaska on May 20, 2019, based on the evidence provided.

He said state law allows a resident to temporarily leave Alaska and maintain their residency so long as they intend to return. He said Armstrong left for prior commitments on May 20, 2019, and returned on June 8, 2019. He said he found that her absence starting May 20, 2019, was temporary and that Armstrong “maintained her intent to return while she was away.”

He also said case law allows the court “to consider the emotional and physical connection to one’s residence.”

“The result of the November 2022 election is accepted and Armstrong remains the certified winner,” Walker wrote.

Richard Moses, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs in the case, said they had no comment.

The lawsuit was filed against the state Division of Elections and elections officials. Armstrong intervened in the case.

The case “wasn’t even a close call,” Scott Kendall, an attorney for Armstrong, said in a statement. “The evidence supporting Ms. Armstrong’s residency was so strong, that it’s frankly offensive she even had to go through a trial.”

“From the very start this case was nothing more than a half-baked political stunt, and any appeal of Judge Walker’s decision would be no better,” Kendall said.

The House has yet to organize a majority ahead of the upcoming legislative session, which begins Jan. 17.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of July 20

Here’s what to expect this week.

A U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Sitka helicopter hovers over Sitka Sound during routine hoist training. (U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Lt. Cmdr Wryan Webb)
Yakutat-bound charter flight missing from Juneau

Flight departed from Juneau on Saturday with three people aboard, according to U.S. Coast Guard.

President Biden at the White House on July 3. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)
President Joe Biden drops out of race, scrambling the campaign for the White House

Withdraws under pressure from fellow Democrats; endorses Vice President Kamala Harris to take on Trump.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, July 18, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Buttons on display at a campaign event Monday, July 8, 2024, in Juneau, urge supporters to vote against Ballot Measure 2, the repeal of Alaska’s current election system. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Ranked-choice repeal measure awaits signature count after Alaska judge’s ruling

Signatures must be recounted after judge disqualifies almost 3,000 names, citing state law violations.

The offices of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development in Juneau are seen on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska demographers predict population drop, a switch from prior forecasts

For decades, state officials have forecast major population rises, but those haven’t come to pass.

Neil Steininger, former director of the state Office of Management and Budget, testifies before the House Finance Committee at the Alaska State Capitol in January of 2023. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Neil Steininger, former budget director for Gov. Dunleavy, seeking District 1 Juneau Assembly seat

Downtown resident unopposed so far for open seat; deadline to file for local races is Monday.

A mother bear and a cub try to get into a trash can on a downtown street on July 2, 2024. Two male bears were euthanized in a different part of downtown Juneau on Wednesday because they were acting aggressively near garbage cans, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Two black bears in downtown Juneau euthanized due to aggressive behavior around people

Exposed garbage, people insistent on approaching bears contribute to situation, official says

Most Read