In Eagle River and Chugiak, the Assembly race comes down to a question: Who's the best conservative?
Amy Demboski, Pete Mulcahy and Bob Lupo are running in the April 2 city election to fill the Anchorage Assembly seat being vacated by Debbie Ossiander.
Ossiander has hit the limit of three, three-year-terms.
Six Assembly seats and two School Board seats are on the ballot. Four elected Assembly incumbents are running for re-election, and Cheryl Frasca, recently appointed to the Assembly to fill an unexpired term, is running against former School Board member Tim Steele to retain that seat.
Only the Eagle River-Chugiak race features a slate of candidates who have never been elected to citywide office.
At an Anchorage Chamber of Commerce forum last week, Demboski got right down to the conservatism question.
"I'm the only registered Republican, and I do have the support of a number of conservatives like the mayor, (Assembly members) Bill Starr, Adam Trombley and Chris Birch."
Then she asked Mulcahy: "You're running as a conservative, how do you reconcile that you have a number of Democrats, prominent Democrats such as Patrick Flynn, supporting you?"
Mulcahy said his political affiliation is "undeclared" and he has a couple of $25 donations from Democrats. He said his record in public life, as the military delegate to the School Board and a board member for the Chugiak Volunteer Fire Department board of supervisors, among other activities, demonstrate his conservatism.
Ossiander, also with conservative leanings, supports Mulcahy. Assemblywoman Jennifer Johnston and Loren Leman, former Republican lieutenant governor, are among his contributors.
Demboski, 36, is a paralegal. She worked 10 years as a dental assistant, and an additional five years in dentistry focused on management and development of new business.
She's past president of the Chugiak Community Council, chairwoman of the city's Budget Advisory Commission, and a member of the Sleeping Lady Mountain Lions Club.
She is different from her opponents because she has experience in private industry, and having grown up in Chugiak-Eagle River, has a deep knowledge of the community, she says.
Demboski says the city should focus spending on public safety, education and infrastructure. Her goal would be to reduce property taxes.
Pete Mulcahy, 55, is a retired colonel, and was Fort Richardson Post Commander from 2000 to 2002.
While in the Army, he served as military delegate to the Anchorage School Board. After the Army, he was Armed Services YMCA executive director for four years.
He's on the city Planning and Zoning Commission, is president of the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce, and is past president of the Eagle River Rotary.
Mulcahy gives examples of how he has saved money in his various roles. As military delegate to the School Board, he said he volunteered JFK Elementary on post as a fill-in school for Denali Elementary when it was going be demolished and rebuilt.
While on the Chugiak Volunteer Fire Department board, he supported refurbishing an old fire engine instead of buying a new one.
Lupo, the third candidate, lists his party registration as Veterans Party of Alaska. Unlike the other two, who have never run for city or state office, Lupo has run numerous times, for mayor, lieutenant governor and Assembly, among other positions.
Lupo is not raising any campaign money.
As of March 1, the most recent reporting deadline, Demboski had raised $30,649, but had only about $2,500 left. Mulcahy had raised $20,154, and had $13,000 left.
Reach Rosemary Shinohara at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4340.