A ridicule pole carved by Sitka artist Tommy Joseph stands in front of the Planet Alaska Gallery on Ferry Way on Wednesday, July 31, 2019. The pole includes likenesses of Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy and President Donald Trump. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

A ridicule pole carved by Sitka artist Tommy Joseph stands in front of the Planet Alaska Gallery on Ferry Way on Wednesday, July 31, 2019. The pole includes likenesses of Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy and President Donald Trump. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Dunleavy recall effort kicks-off

Signature gathering begins across the state

An effort to recall Gov. Mike Dunleavy will begin in earnest Thursday with signature gathering efforts taking place at locations across the state.

In an open letter, co-chairs of the Recall Dunleavy campaign Peggy Shumaker and Joseph Usibelli Sr. said “Governor Dunleavy’s sudden, severe, and sometimes illegal budget cuts have caused tremendous harm to Alaska and Alaskans.”

Shumaker, a former University of Alaska Fairbanks professor and former Alaska State Writer Laureate, is campaign co-chair with her husband Usibelli, former president of the Usibelli Coal Mine; Vic Fischer, former Democratic state senator and delegate to the 1955 Alaska Constitutional Convention; and Arliss Sturgulewski, former Republican state senator from Anchorage.

The governor, “made cuts that are so destructive that I don’t think that anyone can foresee the damage that’s going to be done,” Shumaker said in an interview with the Empire. “There’s an atmosphere of fear.”

In order to submit an application for recall a campagin must obtain at least 28,501 signatures, have a campaign committee and 100 sponsors. The committee must also designate a reason for the recall. Alaska state law lists, negligence, corruption, lack of fitness or incompetence as ligitimate reasons for recalling an elected official.

In the application for recall the Recall Dunleavy campaign cited four reasons for recalling the governor including violation of the Executive Branch Ethics Act and incompetence, according to the campaign chair and spokesperson, Meda DeWitt.

Dunleavy “improperly used vetoes to attack rule of law, refused to appoint a judge, and (misused) campaign funds for partisan purposes,” DeWitt told the Empire by phone.

According to a memorandum DeWitt provided the Empire regarding reasons for recalling Dunleavy, the governor violated a number of laws, “by unlawfully and without proper disclosure, authorizing and allowing the use of state funds for partisan purposes to purchase electronic advertisements and direct mailers making partisan statements about his political opponents and supporters.”

The governor’s office could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

In Juneau, signature gathering efforts will be centered around the Planet Alaska store on Ferry Way downtown. Planet Alaska is a Alaska Native women-owned business run by Vivian Mork and Aakatchaq Schaeffer.

Co-owners Aakatchaq Schaeffer, left, and Vivian Mork Yéilk’ stand in front of their Planet Alaska Gallery with a ridicule pole carved by Sitka artist Tommy Joseph on Wednesday, July 31, 2019. The pole includes likenesses of Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, top, and President Donald Trump. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Co-owners Aakatchaq Schaeffer, left, and Vivian Mork Yéilk’ stand in front of their Planet Alaska Gallery with a ridicule pole carved by Sitka artist Tommy Joseph on Wednesday, July 31, 2019. The pole includes likenesses of Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, top, and President Donald Trump. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

“I’m not a Republican or a Democrat,” Mork told the Empire, “Politically I’m an Alaskan.”

Mork said that she volunteered to gather signatures for the recall effort, but could not remember if she reached out to the campaign or the campaign reached out to her for the purposes of holding an event.

In addition to gathering signatures, some communities will be holding additional events, DeWitt told the Empire. Asked if Planet Alaska will be holding any kind of event, Mork said “we were hoping to have an event from about five to seven (in the evening) but it’s going to grow organically.”

Signature gathering will be held from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Planet Alaska store on Ferry Way.

A ridicule pole carved by Sitka artist Tommy Joseph stands in front of the Planet Alaska Gallery on Ferry Way on Wednesday. The pole includes likenesses of Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, top, and President Donald Trump.                                 <strong>Michael Penn</strong> | Juneau Empire

A ridicule pole carved by Sitka artist Tommy Joseph stands in front of the Planet Alaska Gallery on Ferry Way on Wednesday. The pole includes likenesses of Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, top, and President Donald Trump. Michael Penn | Juneau Empire


• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or psegall@juneauempire.com.


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