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Politics

Stories about politics.

City of Bethel

  

Bethel will have a chance to meet its new police chief, Richard Simmons, tonight. Simmons will be available for a "meet and greet" session at 6:00 p.m. on June 9 at Bethel City Hall, right before the city council meeting. The city’s press release for the event states that masks will be required and social distancing should be observed.

Al Gross campaign

There are a total of five people running for Alaska's U.S. Senate seat, currently held by incumbent Dan Sullivan. The Independent candidate that has been endorsed by the Alaska Democratic Party, Dr. Al Gross, says that he entered the race because he is concerned about the divisive nature of President Trump’s leadership, and wants to help change health care in the United States.

Proposition 1 on the 2019 Bethel municipal ballot asks voters if they would like to return Bethel to local option status and limit alcohol licenses to restaurants and eating places. Fili's Pizza is the only Bethel restaurant with an alcohol license and wo
Dean Swope / KYUK

Several weeks ago, Fili’s Pizza, a restaurant in Bethel, began selling beer and wine via curbside pickup and delivery. Alcohol delivery and pickup was authorized by Gov. Mike Dunleavy on April 14 to help Alaskan restaurants and bars generate revenue during the coronavirus-related business shutdowns. But some Bethel residents are saying that curbside alcohol sales should be banned under Bethel’s local option status, and the state says that's a valid argument. 


Greg Kim / KYUK

The City of Bethel will be receiving $8.4 million in CARES Act funding from the federal government, but the city can only spend it on COVID-19-related expenses. The funds cannot be mixed with the normal operating budget, even though the city is expecting hundreds of thousands of dollars less in sales tax revenue this year because the pandemic has slowed down business.  


Katie Basile / KYUK

On May 26, the Bethel City Council reinstated the COVID-19 emergency after the first declaration of emergency expired two days earlier. The new declaration has some changes which limit the authority of the city manager, specifically his authority to change cab fares. The city council also set the stage for a potential "by-mail" election this October, and confirmed the hire of new police chief Richard Simmons.

Greg Kim / KYUK

The City of Bethel’s finance department has a turnover problem that got even worse. Finance Director Christine Blake decided to quit early, citing a “chaotic and unprofessional environment.” This marks at least the 14th employee to have left Bethel's finance department in as many months. 


City of Bethel

Some of the issues before the Bethel City Council tonight are whether to continue the state of emergency due to COVID-19, and whether it should add new rules to allow elections by mail. Also on the agenda is confirming the new police chief.

Katie Basile / KYUK

On Friday, May 22, the state is lifting many of the coronavirus-related restrictions that have kept businesses and organizations closed; Bethel is following suit. The city is opening its facilities to the public on May 26, planning to resume bus services, and returning cab rules to a pre-COVID-19 state. 

After being cancelled earlier this week, the planned flyover of military aircraft over Bethel, Kotzebue, and Nome has been rescheduled for Friday, May 15.

Katie Basile / KYUK

Bethel's taxi cab system was a big issue in the May 12 city council meeting. The council introduced an ordinance that would allow the city manager to extend the COVID-19 cab fare structure, but rejected a proposal to permanently move to a meter system. 

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