an April 3, 1996 article in The Anchorage Daily News that reported this:
Alaskans Line Up For a Whiff of Ivana
Sarah Palin, a commercial fisherman from Wasilla, told her husband on Tuesday she was driving to Anchorage to shop at Costco. Instead, she headed straight for Ivana.
And there, at J.C. Penney’s cosmetic department, was Ivana, the former Mrs. Donald Trump, sitting at a table next to a photograph of herself. She wore a light-colored pantsuit and pink fingernail polish. Her blonde hair was coiffed in a bouffant French twist.
“We want to see Ivana,” said Palin, who admittedly smells like salmon for a large part of the summer, “because we are so desperate in Alaska for any semblance of glamour and culture.”
Ivana Trump, the former Czechoslovakian Olympic skier who found fame and wealth as the wife of the New York tycoon, came to Anchorage Tuesday to push her line of perfume.
More than 500 people waited as long as half an hour in J.C. Penney to chat with her and receive an autographed photo.
That was 1996. It was that same year — in October — when Palin was elected Mayor of Wasilla. According to The Anchorage Daily News article reporting her victory, “the final tally was 617-413.” There are High School Student Council elections with more votes than that. She ran her campaign, and won, based on the precise GOP wedge strategies that John McCain, to this day, pretends to decry. As a Wasilla councilman put it at the time:
Palin offers no management qualifications, basing her campaign on the buzzword planks and the political might of the far-right Republicans. She obtained endorsement by the NRA. Why is the Republican Party so interested in local elections? Why is the NRA involved in such a contest? The three council seats up this year also saw challengers running on the basis of the Republican Party platform, using the same tactics. I would never suggest that an individual or organization refrain from participating in any election, but I had hoped this valley and Wasilla could avoid the nationwide tendency that sees such elections become more and more partisan. Bad enough that state decisions are made more often on the basis of party politics and in party caucuses. We don’t need that at the local level.
Time today reported the same thing: “While Palin often describes that race as having been a fight against the old boys’ club, [then-incumbent Mayor] Stein says she made sure the campaign hinged on issues like gun owners’ rights and her opposition to abortion (Stein is pro-choice).”
The first thing Palin did after being elected was fire six department heads in the City, including the Police Commissioner and the librarian. As The Anchorage Daily News put it: “the newly elected mayor of Wasilla has asked all of the city’s top managers to resign in order to test their loyalty to her administration.” It added:
She’s also been criticized by the local semiweekly newspaper for a new policy requiring department heads to get the mayor’s approval before talking to reporters. An editorial in The Frontiersman labeled it a “gag order.”
In January of 1997, Palin seemed actually to lie about what she did, as the same paper reported:
Palin said she planned to meet with [Police Chief Irl] Stambaugh and [librarian Mary Ellen] Emmons this afternoon. She also disputed whether they had actually been fired. “There’s been no meeting, no actual terminations,” she said. Stambaugh’s response was to read part of the letter given to him.
“Although I appreciate your service as police chief, I’ve decided it’s time for a change. I do not feel I have your full support in my efforts to govern the city of Wasilla. Therefore I intend to terminate your employment. . . . “
“If that’s not a letter of termination, I don’t know what is,” he said.
Perhaps the most disturbing revelation about Palin yet appeared in the Time article linked above — that one of the very first things she did after being elected Mayor was pressure the librarian to ban books which she found offensive in some way:
Stein says that as mayor, Palin continued to inject religious beliefs into her policy at times. “She asked the library how she could go about banning books,” he says, because some voters thought they had inappropriate language in them. “The librarian was aghast.” That woman, Mary Ellen Baker, couldn’t be reached for comment, but news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire Baker for not giving “full support” to the mayor.