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Mayor of Alaska's largest city takes oath of office on Hawaiian vacation

Suzanna Caldwell
Suzanna Caldwell photo

Nobody expects to hear "aloha" during the swearing in of an Anchorage mayor, but that all changed today.

Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan took his second oath of office via Skype Monday in the law office of Honolulu attorney Nathan Aipa. Anchorage District Court Judge Brian Clark administered the oath, standing in front of a laptop in the mayor's conference room at Anchorage City Hall.

The city heralded its use of technology, saying it was the first time a mayor had been sworn in via the videoconference program.

Lei for swearing in

Sullivan wore a Hawaiian shirt and was joined by his wife, Lynnette. After taking the oath, Sullivan was presented with a lei from the mayor of Honolulu, Peter Carlisle. He signed off by saying "aloha."

Sullivan is in Hawaii for a family reunion. He said three years ago he was lucky to have his Alaska family present for his swearing-in ceremony. Now he has a chance to share his second oath of office with his Hawaiian friends and family.

The mayor's communications director, Lindsey Whitt, didn't know when Sullivan began planning the vacation. By the time preparations for the oath of office began, Sullivan had made plans for his Hawaii vacation. He had no intention of making the oath a big deal, or throwing a party, Whitt said. 

Sullivan said it was easier to move his schedule than his family's.

Municipal code mandates that the mayor be sworn in on July 1 or "as soon thereafter as practicable." Since Sunday would have been inconvenient, the city scheduled the ceremony for Monday. Sullivan said he wanted to get it done sooner rather than later. He returns from vacation July 16.

Anchorage redux

Municipal attorney Dennis Wheeler said there's nothing in municipal code that specifies where the oath must take place.

The mayor will sign the oath a second time when he’s back in town. While Wheeler said there should be no question that the oath Sullivan took on Monday is valid, the signing should affirm that.

"If you don't do it, people will say, 'He did it in Hawaii.' We can resolve that by doing it again here (in Anchorage) and there can be no debate about it," he said.

Was Sullivan worried about agitating voters by not being in Alaska for the ceremony? Apparently not. Sullivan cited his track record of working hard as Anchorage mayor for three years and reiterated that it doesn't matter where oath is sworn -- only that it happens.

"That's the important thing," he said. "Not where you're at."

 

Contact Suzanna Caldwell at suzanna(at)alaskadispatch.com