Austin Quinn-Davidson, a queer Anchorage Assembly member, has been tapped to serve as acting Mayor of Anchorage by the city’s assembly — a history-making moment.
First elected to the Assembly in 2018, Quinn-Davidson is stepping up to fill the mayoral vacancy after the resignation of Ethan Berkowitz. Just nine days before Quinn-Davidson’s appointment, Berkowitz admitted to a “consensual, inappropriate messaging relationship” with a local TV anchorwoman who threatened to reveal sexually explicit images of him online, and announced that he would be resigning from his position.
“At first, I was very resistant, because it is a big task,” Quinn-Davidson told the Anchorage Daily News. “I think the most important role of a mayor right now is to inspire trust in government, and to make people feel at ease during a time that is pretty tumultuous.”
Quinn-Davidson is next in line for the position thanks to the city’s charter, which directs the chair of its Assembly to serve as acting mayor during a vacancy. Felix Rivera had held the position, but upon hearing the news, the then-chair called a meeting of the Assembly to allow all 11 members to vote on who they believed should become acting mayor. Rivera even actually nominated Quinn-Davidson to replace him as chair himself.
“Feeling the weight of a job this important, especially right now, where decisions you make are literally life and death for some people, [made it] really hard to decide if I wanted to do that,” said Quinn-Davidson.
While Quinn-Davidson is serving as acting mayor, the title assumption isn’t permanent. A newly elected mayor could take over anytime from now until July, when the mayoral term typically starts. For now, Quinn-Davidson is busy focusing on keeping Anchorage not only surviving but thriving.
“I think revitalizing the economy and ensuring that small businesses can survive and that people can get back to work is key,” Quinn-Davidson told ADN. “Of course, that interplays with public health and safety, and those two are so aligned, we need to work together on both.”