Bethel City Council considering Libby Bakalar for city attorney

State attorney Libby Bakalar cites a statute governing the appeal process for election certifications and recounts during a press teleconference at the Division of Elections office in downtown Juneau on Nov. 26, 2018.
Former state attorney Libby Bakalar, shown here during a press conference at the Alaska Division of Elections office in downtown Juneau on Nov. 26, 2018. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

The Bethel City Council is considering former Alaska state attorney Libby Bakalar for city attorney.

Bakalar, a Juneau resident, will be invited to Bethel for an on-site interview, scheduled the same day that three candidates for city manager make their visit.

Council member Mark Springer made the motion to invite Bakalar to Bethel.

“You really can’t do much better than someone who has come from the biggest and best law firm in the state of Alaska, which is the Alaska Department of Law,” Springer said.

Bakalar served in the Alaska attorney general’s office in various capacities from 2006 until 2018, when she was fired by Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration. Bakalar believes that she was terminated because of her blog, called “One Hot Mess Alaska,” in which she often criticized President Donald Trump. She is suing Dunleavy, claiming that the firing was a violation of her right to freedom of speech.

Bakalar also has experience in civil litigation and currently works as a solo practicing attorney in Juneau.

In a remote interview conducted at Tuesday night’s city council meeting, Bakalar said she has a grasp on the specific issues that Bethel faces, like local option alcohol regulation. She said she also has experience with elections and drafting legislation.

Council members did not ask Bakalar about her blog or her lawsuit against the governor for wrongful termination. After the interview, several council members said they only cared about her professional qualifications.

“I think that’s a reasonable concern for anyone,” said council member Alyssa Leary. “But on the same token, I think being involved with all of that, she’s probably developed some tough skin.”

“I’m interested in what an employee will do for the city of Bethel,” said council member Michelle DeWitt. “All employees have other areas of interest or issues or topics outside of employment.”

Bakalar also stated that, while she would work remotely from Juneau, she would be happy to fly to Bethel six to seven times a year or more.

If hired, Bakalar said she could start work as Bethel’s city attorney by March. She is scheduled to visit Bethel Feb. 10-12.

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