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As filing deadline passes, Anchorage Assembly races heat up

Sean Doogan
Ma'o Tosi files to run for Anchorage Assembly at the municipal clerk's office in City Hall on Friday, Feb. 7. Tosi, a community activist and manager of the Northway Mall, ended months of speculation by making his run official. Loren Holmes photo

Six Anchorage Assembly seats, two school board positions, several charter amendments and bonds will be presented to Anchorage voters in the April 1 municipal election. But the hottest race by far is the run for East Anchorage seat I, currently held by Adam Trombley. By the 5 p.m. filing deadline Friday, Trombley had drawn two well-known challengers.

Former NFL defensive end and current community activist Ma'o Tosi filed against Trombley a few hours before the Friday deadline. Tosi currently runs the Northway Mall and founded AK Pride, a multicultural youth empowerment group. Tosi, who was once considering a run for Anchorage mayor in 2015, said he wants to see if his political time is now, not tomorrow.

"I don't want to wait," Tosi said. "I feel it's time for me to get involved. If not, the voters will tell me."

Pete Petersen, a former two-term state Democratic representative, has also filed for the East Anchorage seat. Petersen said he decided to jump into the race because Trombley has made a series of bad decisions. Petersen said he was most concerned with Trombley's support for delaying a vote on the recall referendum for the controversial labor law known as AO-37. Petersen said he was concerned he and Tosi -- both of whom are viewed as more liberal than the incumbent, Trombley -- will split some votes. But Petersen said his prior legislative experience gives him a leg up on his competition.

"It is too soon to tell how (Tosi) will affect the race," Petersen said. "But I have name recognition and know how to run a campaign."

For his part, Trombley said he is looking forward to the race.

"I like competition," Trombley said. Both Trombley and Tosi are former East Anchorage High School athletes; Tosi, a defensive end, went on to play briefly in the NFL, while Trombley has coached basketball at local high schools.

Trombley defended his AO-37 vote, pointing to the fact that there were few options left to Assembly members.

"We had passed the 75-day rule (for getting the recall referendum on the ballot); the Mayor had vetoed April, so there weren't any options," Trombley said.

As for being the subject of a well-stocked race, Trombley said he doesn't plan to change up his campaign strategy because of either Tosi or Petersen.

The Trombley-Tosi-Petersen race, although one of the more intriguing match-ups, is just a sliver of what voters will see on the April 1 municipal ballot. Also up for decision:

Assembly, Downtown District 1

Patrick Flynn (incumbent)
Mark Martinson

Assembly, Chugiak/Eagle River District 2

Bill Starr (incumbent)
Sharon Gibbons

Assembly, West Anchorage District 3

Tim Steele (incumbent)
Phil Isley

Assembly, Midtown District 4

Elvi Gray-Jackson (incumbent) has no challengers.

Assembly, South Anchorage District 6

Chris Birch (incumbent) is term-limited and cannot run again.
Bill Evans
Pete Nolan
Bruce Dougherty

School Board, Seat C

Pat Higgins (incumbent)
Liz Ross
Dean Williams

School Board, Seat D

Kameron Perez-Verdia (incumbent)
Don Smith
Karli Lopez

School bond package

$54.8 million -- includes money for Girdwood K-8 school and retrofit of Airport Heights Elementary School

Municipal bond package

$33 million

The municipal election will be held on April 1, 2014. Find more information on the election on the municipal clerk's website.

Contact Sean Doogan at sean@alaskadispatch.com.

Correction: This story originally reported that the municipal bond package on the ballot includes funding for a Spenard Road reconstruction project. This project is not included in the proposed bond package.