2021 Anchorage municipal election guide: Q&As with candidates for mayor and school board

Meet the candidates running in the April 6 election and learn where they stand on the issues.

Ahead of the April 6 municipal election, the Anchorage Daily News invited candidates for Anchorage mayor and school board to give their views on key issues and to discuss their priorities if elected. Many of the questions came from readers.

As in recent years, voting will be by mail, with ballots going out the week of March 15. For more information on mail-in ballots and voting, visit the city’s election website, which includes an FAQ and full list of candidates. Find information on how to vote in person here.

Read all the questions with candidate responses in the links below.

If no mayor candidate gets 45% of the vote, the two candidates with the most vote share will advance to a runoff.

Four of seven school board seats are up for election. These seats are elected at-large so voters across the city will vote for each seat.

Voters in one Assembly district will also decide whether to recall Assembly Chair Felix Rivera.

Scroll further down for answers from individual candidates.

[Related: Ballots are in the mail for the Anchorage election. Here’s how to make sure your ballot is counted]


COMPARE THE CANDIDATES BY QUESTION

CANDIDATES FOR MAYOR

Why are you running for mayor?

What in your background or experience sets you apart from the other candidates and makes you suited to be an effective mayor of Anchorage?

What’s the biggest challenge facing city government and how would you address it?

Describe how your administration would approach the coronavirus pandemic

What’s your assessment of how Anchorage’s city government has responded to the pandemic over the past year? What, if anything, would you have done differently?

What role should city government play in repairing economic damage to individuals, businesses and community organizations from the pandemic?

What’s your vision for downtown, and what specifically are your short-term and long-term plans for repairing damage from the past year?

Would you make changes to the Anchorage Police Department and policing policies? Why?

Is the Anchorage Police Department adequately staffed?

Do you support the bond issue on this spring’s municipal ballot that would fund public-safety technology upgrades, including body-worn and in-vehicle cameras for police officers? Explain.

Describe, with specifics, how you would expand and diversify Anchorage’s economy.

What’s your vision for Anchorage’s economy in the future?

Is taxation in Anchorage too high/about right/too low?

Do you have ideas for alternative sources of city revenue? Explain.

Are there city programs or services you would cut? Explain.

Are there city programs or services you would expand? Explain.

What’s your view of current Anchorage land-use plans? Would you push for changes?

Homelessness remains a persistent, significant problem in Anchorage. What specifically would you do differently from previous administrations?

Name a program dealing with homelessness in Anchorage that you believe is working

Discuss your commitment to transparency and openness in Anchorage municipal government. Do you have suggestions for improving either?

What’s your assessment of Anchorage’s transportation infrastructure? Do you have a plan to improve it? How?

Are there specific transportation projects you would initiate in the municipality if elected?

The past year has been marked by increasing civic discord in Anchorage. What would you do to reduce frustration, distrust and anger that increasingly has characterized civic conversation?

What other important issue would you like to discuss?


CANDIDATES FOR SCHOOL BOARD

Why are you running?

Why are you qualified to serve as an Anchorage School Board member?

What’s your vision for education in Anchorage?

Rate the school district’s performance during the pandemic. What specifically would you have done differently?

What do you believe is the single most important issue facing the Anchorage School District? How would you address it if elected?

If you could change one thing in the Anchorage School District, what would it be?

Do you have areas of concern about student achievement in the Anchorage School District? What are your specific suggestions for improvement?

What are your thoughts on the current and proposed Anchorage School District budgets?

Are there specific curriculum changes you would advocate? Describe them and the reason you want to see a change.

The school district used distance learning extensively over the past year. Once in-person classes fully return, would you like to see continuing or additional distance-learning options offered?

Does Anchorage need better preschool options?

What steps should ASD take to improve its career and technical education curriculum?

Achievement gaps persist in the Anchorage School District among economic, racial and ethnic groups of students. What should the district do to close them?

Are you happy with current class sizes in the district? Would you suggest specific changes?

Is the Anchorage School District currently doing a good job of retaining quality teachers? What steps, if any, should the school board take to improve teacher retention?

Please discuss your commitment to transparency and open government as it relates to the school board and Anchorage School District. Would you push for changes?

What other important issue would you like to discuss?


THE CANDIDATES

ANCHORAGE MAYOR

Anna Anthony

Dave Bronson

Jeffrey Brown

Forrest Dunbar

Bill Evans

Bill Falsey

Heather Herndon

George Martinez

Mike Robbins

Albert Swank Jr.

Did not respond: Darin Colbry, Jacob Seth Kern, Reza Momin, Jacob Versteeg, Joe Westfall

We also took a closer look at candidates’ priorities and records in a series of stories:

Bill Evans wants to meet Anchorage voters in the middle. He hopes that will help, not hurt, his mayoral campaign.

Anchorage mayoral candidate George Martinez wants to ‘reset the conversation’ in local politics

Anchorage mayoral candidate Bill Falsey hopes to attract voters with his record as city manager

Anchorage mayoral candidate Dave Bronson wants to take the city in ‘a new direction’

Forrest Dunbar has served on the Anchorage Assembly through a pandemic and protests. He says he’s campaigning for mayor on ‘fact-based leadership.’

Mike Robbins is running for Anchorage mayor on his skills as a businessman. Opponents are criticizing his history of lawsuits and debt.


ANCHORAGE SCHOOL BOARD (Four of seven seats are up for election this year)

* Incumbents

SEAT B (1-year-term)

Mark Anthony Cox

Judy Norton Eledge

Kelly Lessens

Marilyn Stewart

SEAT E

Rachel Blakeslee

Edgar Blatchford

Sami Graham

Pat Higgins

Alisha Hilde*

Nial Sherwood Williams

SEAT F

Kim Paulson

Marcus Sanders

Dora Wilson

Did not respond: Don Loring

SEAT G

Carl Jacobs

Elisa Vakalis*


Questions, suggestions or feedback: email editor David Hulen at dhulen@adn.com.