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BETHEL, Alaska (AP) — The Bethel City Council failed to appoint the only person who applied to fill a vacant council seat and instead voted to extend the application period to June 4.

Only three of the six all-male council members voted Tuesday for female Yupik elder Mary Nanuwak, who meets the legal requirements, KYUK-AM reported .

The council went through two rounds of votes. Mayor Richard Robb, Vice Mayor Fred Watson and member Raymond Williams left their ballots blank on both rounds.

Council member Mark Springer called the results “disappointing” and “shameful.”

“I don’t think we’re doing the public’s work that way,” Springer said. “Ms. Nanuwak has made her feelings known on a number of issues, whether you like to hear them put that way or not. She’s qualified as a council member.”

Nanuwak is well known to the City Council. For years, she has spoken at the beginning of meetings, often protesting alcohol sales and calling for more mental health resources.

Council member Leif Albertson accused the council of not following its process and of “moving the goal posts” by extending the application period after already receiving a qualified applicant by deadline. Robb said he disagrees with that narrative. He said the council followed its process and ended without an appointment.

“We do have the opportunity to seek more people, and if we can’t agree on one person then that person, even though they meet the qualifications that we may not think they would be the best person for the job at this time, not based on any one issue but based on a variety of factors,” Robb said.

Williams made the motion to extend the application period to June 4 to find someone who “meets the needs of the council.”

“There’s a need to meet the council’s standards,” Williams said, “and one council member to another council member, there’s different standards. I’m thinking that I’d rather have more choices than less choices.”


Information from: KYUK-AM,