Ballot lineup set for Anchorage election in April

Anchorage's city election is less than two months away. Filing for Assembly and School Board seats closed Feb. 10, and Tuesday was the last day to drop out.

Here's a rundown of how the ballot stands now.


There's a race in each of the six Assembly districts. Four seats are open. Two incumbents, Tim Steele and Pete Petersen, are running for re-election.

Assembly races are nonpartisan, though in the past, some candidates have overtly displayed their party connection and party members have gotten involved in their campaigns.

District 1: Downtown

Incumbent Assembly member Patrick Flynn is barred by term limits from running for a fourth three-year term. Six people filed to replace him.

–Christopher Constant, 45, an administrator at the substance-abuse counseling nonprofit Akeela Inc., a real estate manager and former president of the Fairview Community Council.

–Christopher Cox, 49, an Anchorage businessman and investor who owns or has owned a number of businesses, including Northern Stage Co., AC Auto/Carousel Cars and Cox Mechanical. He previously owned the Carousel Lounge in Anchorage, Palmer-based Klondike Mike's Saloon and Grill, and the Anchor Arms hotel. He has also worked as a real estate investor and landlord.

–David Dunsmore, 31, former chief of staff to state Rep. Adam Wool, D-Fairbanks, and a part-time aide to Assembly member Pete Petersen.

–Mark Alan Martinson, 65, an audio-visual technician and Segway tour guide with E Street Audio Visual in Anchorage.

–Albert Langdon Swank Jr., 66, a consultant and owner of an Anchorage engineering and scientific services firm.

–Warren West, 65, retired from the U.S. Air Force.

District 2: Chugiak-Eagle River

Assembly member Bill Starr is barred by term limits from running again. Four people want to replace him:

–John Laurence Brassell, 47, vice president and employee benefits account executive with an Anchorage-based risk management firm: Parker, Smith and Feek.

–Fred Dyson, 78, a former Assembly member and longtime state legislator. Dyson served on the Assembly from 1985 to 1991, in the Alaska House from 1997 to 2002 and in the state Senate from 2003 to 2013.

–Gretchen Wehmhoff, 59, a retired teacher and freelance writer. Wemhoff made unsuccessful runs for the Alaska House of Representatives in 2014 and 2016 as a Democrat.

–A fourth candidate, Patrick Donnelly, didn't respond to messages.

District 3: West Anchorage

Incumbent Steele is running for a second term. He was elected in 2013. Steele has one challenger:

–David Nees, 60, a former middle-school math teacher in the Anchorage School District. Nees has made unsuccessful runs for state or local office in each of the last six years.

District 4: Midtown

Incumbent Elvi Gray-Jackson, current Assembly chair, is barred by term limits from running for a fourth term. Four people are running to replace her:

–Ron Alleva, 65, the owner of Grubstake Auction Co. in the Ship Creek area. Alleva has run unsuccessfully for Assembly several times, most recently challenging incumbent Dick Traini in 2016.

–Felix Rivera, 27, a psychiatric treatment counselor at AK Child and Family and a political consultant.

–Marcus Sanders, 34, a safety security specialist at Wendler Middle School.

–Don Smith, 77, an anti-tax activist who is retired and served a term as a state legislator from 1967 to 1968 (when two of his colleagues were the late Sen. Ted Stevens and current U.S. Rep. Don Young), three terms as an Assembly member representing South Anchorage from 1975 to 1985, and one term on the Anchorage School Board from 2010 to 2013.

District 5: East Anchorage

Incumbent Assembly member Petersen is running for a second term. He was elected in 2013. Petersen has one challenger:

–Don Jones, 52, a retired U.S. Air Force officer who has served as a precinct chairman for state and local elections.

District 6: South Anchorage

–Incumbent Assembly member Bill Evans, elected in 2013, said he will not run for a second term. Two people are running to replace him:

–Albert Fogle, 37, an employee benefits consultant for Northrim Benefits Group.

–Suzanne LaFrance, 48, area manager of network services at AT&T Alaska.


Two Anchorage School Board seats are in play this year. Board members are elected in municipalitywide nonpartisan races.

Seat C

Board member Pat Higgins is barred by term limits from running for a fourth term. Five people are competing for his seat.

–Dave Donley, 62, an attorney and former Alaska state senator. Donley served in the state House from 1986 to 1992, and the state Senate from 1993 to 2002.

–Alisha Hilde, 34, an estate planning attorney and owner of Alaska Wills and Trusts LLC.

–Tasha Hotch, 38, a program administrator with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.

–James Smallwood, 38, owner of a small insurance business called Benefit Mi in the Northway Mall.

–A fifth candidate, Christopher Jamison, did not respond to messages.

Seat D

Board member and former president Kameron Perez-Verdia said he will not run run for a third term. Three people say they're running to replace him:

–Albert Berke, 87, a retired federal worker and advocate for the deaf.

–Andy Holleman, 63, a retired Anchorage School District teacher and former president of the Anchorage Education Association. He is working part-time as an independent contractor repairing medical tracking and inventory control equipment.

–Kay Schuster, 45, a supervising teacher with the Anchorage School District.


Just one proposition will appear on the April ballot, though the city was considering a separate ballot — technically a special election — on other issues: creating a new police district for Turnagain Arm communities no longer protected by Alaska State Troopers, and expanding a special service area in Girdwood to raise money for the Winner Creek hand tram.

On the regular election ballot, Assembly member John Weddleton is proposing to expand Anchorage's parks and recreation service area to include the entire Hillside.

Not everyone on the Hillside pays taxes for park maintenance. Weddleton said that should change, citing rising problems with private property rights and public access to parkland on the Hillside.

Other efforts to place initiatives and referendums on the ballot were unsuccessful.


Municipal bonds

Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz has proposed a $46 million bond package for 2017. Bonds are divided into four categories: police, fire, parks and roads.

Among the road projects the administration wants to borrow for: the extension of 100th Avenue from Minnesota Drive to C Street, and upgrading Turnagain Boulevard from 35th Avenue to Spenard Road.

Bond money is also proposed for projects related to city parks and playgrounds, including a new indoor playground for the Fairview Recreation Center and a master-planning effort for Town Square Park downtown.

The Anchorage Police Department wants to remodel its 30-year-old training center and its interview room, which needs a separate bathroom for interview subjects, APD Chief Chris Tolley told Assembly members at a work session last month.

The Anchorage Fire Department wants money to replace three fire engines and install LED lighting on the exterior of fire stations, including parking lots.

School bonds

The $58.45 million school bond package would pay for about a dozen construction projects, including roof replacements at seven schools and the student nutrition building. The bond would also fund heat and ventilation replacements at three schools and seismic improvements at West High School and Romig Middle School.

The district estimated the bond would cost Anchorage homeowners an additional $1.21 per $100,000 of assessed property — or $4.24 a year for the average $300,000 home.

During the last municipal election, Anchorage voters narrowly rejected the $49.3 million school bond.

Tegan Hanlon contributed reporting.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled the last names of candidates Suzanne LaFrance and John Laurence Brassell.

Devin Kelly

Devin Kelly was an ADN staff reporter.