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That Anchorage election you've been ignoring? It's today. Here's your primer.

  • Author: Devin Kelly
  • Updated: December 2, 2017
  • Published April 3, 2017

Tuesday is election day in Anchorage. Voters will elect six new Anchorage Assembly members and two new School Board representatives.

Several propositions, including one on taxi service, are also on the ballot, as well as bonds for schools, roads, parks and public safety.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. on Tuesday.

You can cast a ballot at your home precinct or at one of four absentee in-person locations: the Loussac Library, City Hall, the University of Alaska Anchorage Student Union and the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

To find your polling place, go to www.muni.org/elections and use the polling place locator app. You can also check the state Division of Elections polling place locations webpage, or call 907-269-8683.

While Tuesday is election day, it's really more like the last chance to cast a ballot. Early voting has been underway for two weeks.

Though turnout among early voters appeared to be slightly down last week compared to the 2016 city election, deputy municipal clerk Amanda Moser said the past few days have ticked up to a "steady" flow.

Lo Hansen, foreground left, and Cindy Hawkins, foreground right, prepare absentee and early voting ballots from the Loussac Library polling station for counting on Tuesday as the review team works at the new municipal election center at Ship Creek on Monday. “This is our first election here,” said Amanda Moser, deputy municipal clerk for elections. “It’s fantastic all being in the same room.” Elections staffers used to be scattered throughout City Hall. “I wore a Fitbit last year and I would get 100 flights of stairs running back and forth,” she said. (Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News)

Early ballots aren't tallied until election day, so it isn't yet possible to know which way voters are leaning. But in a new election headquarters on Ship Creek, Anchorage elections officials have been spending the past few weeks preparing those early votes for counting.

Here's a rundown of what we know about the 2017 city ballot.

Assembly

Six Anchorage Assembly races are underway, one in each district. That means more than half of the 11-member Assembly will be changing over.

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

Twenty candidates are running. Here's a list:

Downtown (open seat): Christopher Constant, Chris Cox, David Dunsmore, Mark Alan Martinson, Albert Langdon Swank Jr., Warren West

Chugiak-Eagle River (open seat): John Laurence Brasell, Fred Dyson, Gretchen Wehmhoff, Patrick Donnelly

West Anchorage: Tim Steele (incumbent), David Nees

Midtown (open seat): Ron Alleva, Felix Rivera, Marcus Sanders, Don Smith

East Anchorage: Pete Petersen (incumbent), Don Jones

South Anchorage (open seat): Albert Fogle, Suzanne LaFrance

The amount of candidate fundraising overall is lagging behind the 2016 race, according to the latest campaign disclosure reports. Campaign money affects the volume and reach of political advertising.

A giant Anchorage Votes banner hangs at the new municipal election center at Ship Creek on Monday. (Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News)

School Board

Two Anchorage School Board seats are in play this year. Board members are elected in city-wide nonpartisan races. There are eight candidates total.

Seat C: Dave Donley, Alisha Hilde, Tasha Hotch, Christopher Jamison, James Smallwood

Seat D: Albert Berke, Andy Holleman, Kay Schuster

Prop. 8: Cabs

First of all: This ballot proposal does not directly affect the prospects of ride-booking companies like Uber or Lyft. It's strictly about the number of cabs that can operate in the city.

The way the proposition is phrased has drawn criticism. Conservative blogger Suzanne Downing called it "the most confusing proposition to ever hit a ballot in Anchorage."

Voting "no" on the proposition is actually a vote in support of more taxis on Anchorage streets. A "no" vote will keep in effect a new Anchorage law that would direct the city to issue more than 100 new taxi permits over the next five years, along with a built-in review to evaluate the impact on service. Currently, 188 permits are in circulation.

The new law doesn't necessarily mean there will be twice as many cabs in Anchorage. Someone has to decide to buy one of the new permits and operate the cab themselves.

Supporters of the measure say it will open up more competition and encourage innovation in the local taxi industry.

But taxi permit owners, represented by the Anchorage Taxi Permit Owners Association, have waged a campaign warning about worse service and too many cabs on the road. The permit owners have spent at least $68,000 on an ad campaign urging a "yes" vote on Prop. 8. (Update, 2 p.m. Tuesday: According to the latest campaign disclosure reports Tuesday, taxi permit owners and other supporters have spent more than $107,000 on the "Yes on 8" campaign.)

A "yes" vote would keep the current system unchanged. Right now, the city's transportation commission conducts a study to determine if enough cabs are on the road. The commission was in the early stages of collecting more data on cab service in Anchorage when the new law passed.

A "yes" vote also allows the city's 130 permit owners to keep the value of their investments.

Lo Hansen, left, and Cindy Hawkins prepare absentee and early voting ballots from the Loussac Library polling station for counting on Tuesday as the review team works at the new municipal election center at Ship Creek on Monday. (Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News)

More ballot measures: Parks and police

Other ballot propositions relate to park maintenance and public safety.

Proposition 7 would extend the size of the city's taxing area for parks and recreation to the entire Anchorage Hillside. Some pockets of the eastern Hillside don't pay for park maintenance. Assemblyman John Weddleton, who spearheaded the measure, said it's needed to help resolve frustrations about trash, overflowing parking and trespassing on private property on the borders of Chugach State Park. A majority of all Anchorage voters must approve the measure as well as a majority of voters within the affected areas.

In small communities along Turnagain Arm, voters are being asked to decide whether to tax themselves to pay for police protection. Proposition C is only going to voters in Indian, Rainbow, Bird Creek and Portage.

Girdwood voters will also receive a special election ballot with a question about expanding the community's taxing area to pay for repairs to the popular hand tram at Winner Creek, among other needs.

The bonds

Voters are being asked to decide on bond money for schools, roads, parks and police.

Bonds rarely attract organized opposition. But a radio ad that started running last week highlights opposition by four former Anchorage mayors to Proposition 2, the "ambulance bond." The bond would pay for new ambulances, public transit vehicles and school safety upgrades.

The former mayors (Rick Mystrom, Dan Sullivan, George Wuerch and Tom Fink) say taxpayers couldn't afford $2.3 million in annual maintenance and operating costs tied to the bond; a spokesman for the current mayor, Ethan Berkowitz, said similar bonds passed in the past and the former mayors were being hypocritical.

Meanwhile, school officials were hoping voters would support a $58.5 million school bond to fund roof and ventilation system replacements, as well as other renovations. Voters rejected the 2016 school bond.

Want to check out your ballot in advance?

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