Anchorage names first woman, openly LGBTQ politician as acting mayor

Alaska’s largest city made history last week when the city’s assembly voted to install Austin Quinn-Davidson as the city’s acting mayor, making her the first woman and member of the LGTBQ community to hold the position.

The Anchorage Daily News reports the Anchorage Assembly voted to replace Felix Rivera with Quinn-Davidson as the Assembly’s chair, which under city statute means she will serve as acting mayor as long as the city’s mayoral vacancy remains. Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz (D) stepped down last Tuesday after admitting to a years-long messaging affair with a local news anchor.

“At first, I was very resistant, because it is a big task,” Quinn-Davidson told the Daily News of the decision to step in as mayor.

“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,” she continued. “I think revitalizing the economy and ensuring that small businesses can survive and that people can get back to work is key. Of course, that interplays with public health and safety, and those two are so aligned, we need to work together on both.”

In a statement Tuesday, Berkowitz apologized for what he called “unacceptable personal conduct that has compromised my ability to perform my duties with the focus and trust that is required.”

“I know my conduct has done great injury to my family, my staff, to Municipal employees, and to the people of our community, and for that, I am deeply sorry,” he added in the statement.

The news anchor, Maria Athens, revealed the affair days earlier when she accused Berkowitz of posting pictures of his genitalia on an underage girl’s website. The FBI cleared Berkowitz of criminal wrongdoing.

Athens herself was arrested earlier this month after a reported physical altercation at the news outlet where she works. 

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