21 questions: Anchorage Assembly candidate Liz Vazquez

The Anchorage Daily News asked candidates for Anchorage Assembly in the 2019 election to answer a series of issue questions. Many of the questions were based on suggestions from readers. Find all candidates and their answers here. We did the same thing with candidates for Anchorage School Board.

Candidate: Liz Vazquez

Age: 67

Occupation: Attorney

Current employer: n/a

Previous public offices held or sought/community leadership positions: Assistant Attorney General; Prosecutor; Administrative Law Judge; State Legislator; Commissioner, Anchorage Budget Advisory Commission; Commissioner, Anchorage School Budget Advisory Commission; Chair, Treasurer and Director, Chugach Electric Association.

Education: Juris Doctor (Law Degree); 2 MBAs (finance & health care services administration); 3 certifications from the National Judicial College (mediation, arbitration & administrative litigation)



What steps have you taken to prepare for this job? What strengths do you bring to office, and what in your life demonstrates those strengths?

The above long list of community leadership and public office have prepared me for this position. My legal, administrative, audit and finance experience will be valuable. In addition, my ability to do research and analyst of issues will also be valuable.

Describe an ordinance or legislative issue you plan to bring forward as an Assemblymember, and any funding it might require.

Passing more laws is not my priority. However, addressing the crime wave and economic recession is my priority. In addition, making city government more transparent, accountable and efficient is a top goal. The “devil is in the details” and that would include, for example, reviewing audits of city departments and addressing problems identified in the audits.

What is the largest budget you’ve managed? State the amount, length of time and your level of responsibility.

Over $10 billion as a member of the Alaska Legislature and a member of 5 legislative committees. In addition, as Chair, Treasurer, Director of Chugach Electric we reviewed budgets over $200 million dollars.

Describe your position on policies that affect the way Anchorage grows in the coming years.

We have a crime wave and an economic recession. Those need to be priorities.

Do you support the alcohol tax proposed by the administration of Mayor Ethan Berkowitz? Why or why not?

No. Throwing more money into city government is not always the answer. The Assembly just passed the highest city budget, over $500 million. Anchorage has the 11th highest property taxes in the country. Alaska also has the second highest alcohol tax in the nation. The Alaskan tax on alcohol was meant to provide funding for rehabilitation but that has not happened.

What should the city do to alleviate the problem of illegal camps in green spaces in the city?

I will need to do more research before I set forth a viable course of action. The “devil is in the details” and it is important to know the facts and what other cities are doing.

The cost estimate for modernizing the Port of Alaska recently doubled. What do you think the city should do?

The “devil is in the details” and serving on the Assembly would provide me with specific facts and history to make an informed conclusion on this issue. The port is critical infrastructure for both Anchorage and the state, so the solution should include state resources.

There could be tough budget times ahead with state cutbacks. What can the city do to make up for those cuts?

Be more efficient.


What did you think about Alaska’s efforts at criminal justice reform, which began in 2016 with Senate Bill 91?

I did not vote for SB 91. As a former prosecutor, I knew it would be disastrous for our community.

Describe your position on crime in Anchorage.

See above responses. Should be top priority.

How do you feel Anchorage performed in the recent 7.0 earthquake? What can the city government do, or what would you do on the Assembly, to improve seismic safety or emergency preparedness?

DOT did great but needs improvement in addressing the housing damage.

What do you think of the job Ethan Berkowitz has been doing as mayor?

Not enough effort in addressing crime wave, economic recession


Overall taxation in Anchorage is....too low? Too high? Just right? Explain. If taxes are too high, what would you cut? If taxes are too low, what would you raise?

See the above responses. Taxes are too high and the city and school district need to be more efficient. Department audits need to be reviewed and addressed.

Tell us your ideas about transit and infrastructure in Anchorage.

Public transit is important but the conditions of our roads is also important.

What other important issue would you like to discuss here?

Did not answer.

What is the most pressing problem facing your district?

Crime, poor infrastructure and earthquake damage.

Would you support a law allowing on-site consumption of marijuana?

Marijuana should regulated like alcohol.

What three places would you pick when highlighting Anchorage to tourists?

Beluga Point, Museum


Would you take steps toward reversing Anchorage’s plastic bag ban?

Did not answer.

Do you support the Berkowitz administration’s efforts to create a climate change action plan?

Did not answer.

If you were asked to cut the city budget by 10 percent in the coming fiscal year, in which three areas would you recommend cuts?

I would need to see the department audits.