Alaska News

Anchorage voters lean toward rejecting Proposition 1, regulating restroom and locker room use

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include comment from Kim Minnery, a co-sponsor of Proposition 1.

Initial results in Anchorage's local election Tuesday night showed a majority of voters rejecting a contentious ballot initiative to regulate restrooms, locker rooms and "intimate facilities" by sex at birth instead of gender identity, after what was one of the most expensive campaigns in city election history.

The measure, Proposition 1, would have rolled back a legal protection for transgender people that has been in effect for more than two years.

The results could change in the coming days. About 53 percent of the 50,000 ballots counted Tuesday night were "no" votes on Prop. 1, compared to 46 percent in favor. But at least an additional 16,000 ballots cast have been received by elections officials and not yet counted.

Updated results are expected to be posted starting Wednesday.

[High turnout in Anchorage's first-ever vote-by-mail election]

Kati Ward, campaign manager for the Fair Anchorage campaign, which opposed Prop. 1, said her group was hopeful Tuesday night.


"The Anchorage transgender community has stepped up and led this campaign in such an amazing, powerful way," she said. "While we know we don't have all the results tonight, we're cautiously optimistic."

Advocates of Proposition 1 — a local version of what's been known nationally as a "bathroom bill" — said the city's existing law, which allows people to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity, caused safety problems and discomfort for women.

Opponents said the initiative was a veiled attempt to discriminate against people who are transgender.

Kim Minnery, who co-sponsored the initiative, said Wednesday morning that she saw the initial margin as a victory either way.

"Obviously we're a little disappointed, but I think it will be close," Minnery said. "When you consider we were outspent 6-1, if we can get a close margin of victory or defeat, we would consider that an accomplishment."

The latest campaign finance reports show Fair Anchorage, a campaign that first formed in January 2016 to support the city's non-discrimination law, spending at least $800,000 on advertising, consulting services, phone banking and other campaign activities. The records indicate a large infusion of Outside money from a variety of donors.

Major businesses, including BP and Wells Fargo, came out against Prop. 1, saying it would hurt the city's economy.

In spending, the Fair Anchorage campaign dwarfed its opponents. Finance reports show that the  "Yes on 1 — Protect Our Privacy" campaign, coordinated by the group Alaska Family Action, had spent roughly $123,000 as of late March.

Elsewhere on the ballot

Proposition 9, which would give parking authority to Girdwood, passing overwhelmingly with voters Tuesday night. Girdwood officials sought parking enforcement power after Slush Cup 2017 turned the ski community south of Anchorage into a parking lot.

But Proposition 12, a measure to expand the city's fire service area to include the Eagle River Valley, was being rejected by voters inside the service area.

ADN reporter Annie Zak contributed reporting.

Devin Kelly

Devin Kelly was an ADN staff reporter.