The Anchorage Police Department Employees Association said Monday it will not make a formal endorsement to any candidate in the race for Anchorage mayor.
The race’s frontrunners, Dave Bronson and Forrest Dunbar, are expected to advance to a runoff election on May 11. Bronson is in the lead and Dunbar is close behind in second.
Sgt. Jeremy Conkling, the union’s president, said that after a discussion of its 15-member board, the board voted Sunday to not endorse either candidate. Its board is charged with representing all of the union’s more than 565 members, he said.
“Members felt that, for a variety of reasons, politics have gotten incredibly divisive, and especially coming off of a very charged national election and rolling into a obviously politically charged local election, the best course of action for APDEA was to stay out of the race,” Conkling said.
The union in the initial stages of the race had offered financial support to four of the 15 candidates: Forrest Dunbar, Bill Falsey, George Martinez and Bill Evans. Dunbar, Falsey and Martinez all accepted the support, Conkling said.
APDEA will not offer more financial support to Dunbar or financial support to Bronson going forward in the race, Conkling said.
“With the official endorsement from the police union or without, Forrest looks forward to an administration that works hand in hand with the police union,” said Claire Shaw, Dunbar’s campaign manager.
Shaw said Dunbar’s actions as a representative for East Anchorage on the city Assembly show his support for police and public safety, including supporting the increase of the police force by 100 officers and helping to establish the mental health first responders unit.
“Historically, APDEA supports Democrat candidates, so the choice not to endorse either candidate is a win for us,” Bronson said in a statement via email.
The race is technically nonpartisan, but Dunbar previously ran as a Democrat for Congress in 2014. Bronson’s candidacy is a bid to bring conservative leadership to Anchorage.
“Both of these candidates have made promises and have taken actions over the years to support public safety,” Conkling said. “We just want to see public safety remain at the forefront of what what the next mayor does.”
Bronson, in a Facebook post on Sunday, declared his support for Anchorage police, and included an image of a letter from himself written to the police union and dated April 10. Bronson said that as mayor he would end any effort to defund Anchorage’s police.
He also said that he believes “The Thin Blue Line is the last defense between civilization and anarchy,” that “as all lives matter, blue lives matter,” and that be believes some parts of the Black Lives Matter movement are “violent and clearly anti-American.”
Conkling said that Bronson’s letter was not part of the executive board’s decision to not endorse a candidate.
Republican and mayoral candidate Mike Robbins, far behind in the race, endorsed Bronson’s campaign on Sunday.