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Power to the People: How Activism Defeated the MSB Gravel Ordinance

Updated: Jun 8, 2023


In a key victory for residential rights in the deeply conservative Matanuska Susitna Borough (MSB), a controversial gravel ordinance was defeated despite facing heavy odds. Dominating much of the conversation at the MSB Assembly meeting, the ordinance sparked fervent debate with a multitude of opponents voicing their concerns both in-person and over the phone. The resilience of these individuals, many of whom may feel marginalized in this political landscape, made a significant impact on the outcome. Their hard work and determined spirit proved instrumental in this triumph.


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Among the noteworthy moments was the defiance of Ruth Wood from Talkeetna and Dan Tucker. Their firm stands against the ordinance exemplify the kind of grassroots activism that fuels progressive change, even in the most challenging districts. Their sentiment was echoed by many other residents who felt that the Assembly was not listening to its constituents. This shared belief galvanized the opposition and strengthened the collective resolve to ensure the ordinance was not passed.


Jesse Sumner, a former Assembly member and current state representative, tried to sway the assembly with arguments favoring the ordinance. However, his words fell on the deaf ears of the determined opposition. Assembly member Stephanie Nowers, recognizing the overwhelming public sentiment against the ordinance, made a valiant effort to postpone the ordinance indefinitely. Although her motion was initially defeated, it was a rallying point for the opposition, reflecting the importance of standing up for constituents' rights and democratic values.


When the final vote came, progressive activists held their breath. The ordinance initially passed with a 4-3 majority, threatening to undermine the collective efforts of the opposition. However, in a twist that highlighted the power of local activism, MSB Mayor Edna DeVries vetoed the passage of the ordinance. This unexpected move was received with applause from the audience, validating the tireless efforts of all those who fought against the ordinance.


Despite this victory, the struggle for a more equitable Mat-Su Borough continues. Progressive voices like you must stay engaged and work harder than ever to ensure that Assembly members who consistently vote against the interests of the people are held accountable. The upcoming November election presents an opportunity to challenge and possibly unseat three of the assembly members, Yundt, Tew, and Fonov (Assembly Districts 4, 5, and 6), who supported the defeated ordinance. We need your passion, your voice, and your tireless efforts now more than ever. The fight is not over, and with your continued involvement, we can work towards building a more representative MSB Assembly. Contact us at info@matsudems.org if you are interested in running for any of the three seats or if you can help to support candidates to run against the incumbents.


If you support our efforts to organize, please make a contribution to help us support and promote your values in the Mat-Su.


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