In a Race for the House, Controversy About a House
Representative Costello's Republican, Democratic challengers jointly challenge her residency
ANCHORAGE - Today an extremely rare political event occurred in Anchorage.
A Democrat and a Republican who are running for the state House seat held by Republican Mia Costello held a joint press conference to question whether she really lives in their district.
CBS 11 went inside both Costello’s official residence and the house in another district that the challengers say she really lives in.
If she's pulling a hoax about her residency, it's an elaborate one.
Republican Tamara von Gemmingen and Democrat Michelle Scannell called the media to von Gemmingen's south Anchorage apartment this morning, and challenged freshman Representative Costello to prove that she lives in House District 20.
Scannell said: "No matter what time of day I’ve just driven by on my way home I’ve never seen any lights on. In the winter, the driveways were plowed intermittently. I never saw tire tracks of any kind in the snow."
"So together we started kind of canvassing the neighborhood, you know, during different times of the day, different times of the week and just seeing if there are any cars, any kids outside,” said von Gemmingen. “You know, with a family having two children, you would think you'd see some activity outside their house. We just feel that she really doesn't actually live in that house."
State law requires candidates to maintain habitation of homes in the districts they want to represent.
Costello owns a home on Yukon Charlie Loop in West Park, and she insists that she has lived there since purchasing it in 2008.
"You're welcome in to see my mess," she said, inviting a reporter and photographer inside.
Costello showed CBS 11 a photograph of a birthday party taken inside the house as well as the bedrooms of her sons.
And a neighbor vouched for her.
"We've become closer with them because our sons -- our son, now we have two sons, but our son originally born in 2008 -- has been playing with Andrew john and roman ever since he could crawl,” said Ross Emerson, who also lives on Yukon Charlie.
Meanwhile, at Costello’s original family home near West High School, where her opponents say she really lives, House majority caucus press aide Will Vandergriff says he's been renting from her for three years.
"Here's my key that works," he said, unlocking the front door and inviting CBS 11 in.
Costello’s take: "I think sometimes campaigns get side-tracked with issues that are intended to confuse voters."
Maybe just for today, the issue is whether Costello is living in the house as well as running for the House
Von Gemmingen is Costello’s opponent in the August 28th Republican primary.
Scannell is the presumptive Democratic nominee for the November 6th general election.
They say they will file a complaint about Costello with the Division of Elections on Monday.
But Division Director Gail Fenumiai says the deadline to challenge residency was June 11.