An out lesbian has been picked to serve as the acting mayor of Anchorage, Alaska after her straight male predecessor resigned over a sex scandal.
Austin Quinn-Davidson made history with her appointment as the city’s new acting mayor, after a vote by the city assembly on Friday (October 16) picked her for the role.
The politician, who has served on the Anchorage assembly since 2018, will take over after the resignation of Ethan Berkowitz, who quit after admitting to an a “consensual, inappropriate messaging relationship” with a local TV anchor.
Her appointment as the city’s first woman and first gay mayor was backed by assembly chair Felix Rivera, who is also gay and had been tipped to take over the role himself beforehand.
Rivera, who is Latino and would have been the first person of colour to serve in the role, praised Quinn-Davidson as a “compassionate and dedicated public servant”, and assured those disappointed by the city’s record of all-white office holders: “Don’t you worry. It will happen sooner or later. If I were a betting person, I’d bet on sooner.”
He lauded the incoming acting mayor as an “an excellent communicator who sincerely cares about what you have to say, and will listen to all parts of our community”.
Quinn-Davidson will have a lot of work in her in-tray, with COVID-19 cases rising in the city and its economy faltering.
“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.
“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.”