Candidates for mayor plan last forum today

Don Hunter

Eric Croft and Dan Sullivan are scheduled to meet today for the last time before Tuesday's election in their race to be Anchorage's next mayor.

They'll take questions in a noon-time forum sponsored by the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce at the Dena'ina Convention Center on Seventh Avenue downtown.

Both candidates launched their campaigns more than a year ago, Sullivan in November 2007, Croft in April 2008. By the time the city's filing period closed in mid-February, they were part of a record 15-candidate field.

Voters pared that list on April 7, leaving Croft, a former 10-year state representative, to face Sullivan, a former nine-year member of the Anchorage Assembly in the final charge to Tuesday's runoff.

Since February, the two have met in forums before church groups, senior citizens, community councils, tourism groups, Native organizations, university students and the Polynesian Association, to name a few.

Saturday, they had likely their final televised face-off in a debate hosted by KTUU Channel 2.

Many of the questions were familiar. A few provided new twists. The final query from host Jason Moore produced this exchange:

Does the city of Anchorage need a bear cop?

Croft: I think we need to get a hold of the bear problem. We need to do it by a lot of different mechanisms. Better trash containers. Better trash pickup. And I do think it's important to have the other things that you need, which is, making sure you can get those problem bears and get them out. So I think it's worth trying, because we sure don't want some of the horrible situations that we've had before.

Sullivan: ... We need to let people know that proper management of their garbage is absolutely essential, particularly if you live on the Hillside and lower Hillside, because essentially you're attracting wild animals into the bowl. ... You can't just leave your garbage out and not expect to have consequences if indeed you're creating a bear problem.

Secondly I think we may have to reexamine our salmon in the streams program. We've reinstituted salmon in several streams that aren't really fishing streams, they're just essentially ecological restorations, which generally we're all for, but sometimes there's unintended consequences. ... When that salmon spawns upstream, that's bear candy, and it just is a huge attraction for bears. And if it gets to be a severe problem I'm not opposed to a limited hunt of some type by professionals, Fish and Game or qualified other wildlife folks, to make sure that we don't have dangerous animals mauling children.

Croft: I like having the salmon in the streams in our community. I like having salmon streams.

Sullivan: I like salmon in Ship Creek because it's now become a nice world-class, middle-of-the-city salmon stream. But the ones that seem to be problematic are Chester and Campbell where there's not really active fisheries, it's just salmon streams.