- New Museum Project
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The year 2001 marked Valdez’s centennial. On July 1, 1901, Valdez residents voted to incorporate and form an official City government.
How did that vote compare to municipal votes today? For one, there were stricter requirements for who could vote. Voters had to be male, older than 21, a resident of Alaska for one year, a resident of Valdez for 6 months, and had to be an “owner of substantial property”.
Some of these requirements were difficult to meet for many people who felt they had a stake in Valdez’s future. Women, those who were younger than 21, and new residents were prohibited from casting a vote.
One requirement – that of being an owner of substantial property — was more vague than the other requirements and industrious voters found a way to get around it. One piece of land in Valdez changed hands several times during the three hours that the polls were open.
Fifty-nine votes were cast. The outcome was unanimous for incorporation. Seven men were elected to the City Council and they set about organizing the City government. The first ordinance they passed created the Office of the City attorney. The second established a 1% property tax. The third set a poll tax of $2. And the fourth established a license tax for dogs of $2.
Today, Valdez voting requirements are easier to meet – voters are only required to be 18 years old, be a US citizen, and have been a resident of Alaska and Valdez for 30 days. And, the City Council has adopted hundreds of ordinances to create the Valdez Municipal City Code as it exists today!