Anchorage Assembly candidate Q&As: Does the city do a good job of running municipal elections?

In advance of the April 5 Anchorage municipal election, the Anchorage Daily News asked candidates running for Assembly and Anchorage School Board a series of issue questions. Read all the Assembly and school board candidates’ responses here.

Q: Does the city do a good job of running municipal elections? Would you push for changes? Explain.

District 2 - Seat A - Eagle River/Chugiak

Kevin Cross

For the most part, I do think we’re doing a good job. That is because we have lots of good people watching the process. I also believe that mail-in ballots have allowed too much opportunity for fraud and have created a lack of trust in the system. Mail-in ballots should be used only in very limited situations. I support more traditional voting. In person. One person. One vote. In the open. Transparent to all. Increased voting numbers is a false indication of a fair election, particularly if there is an increased likelihood of shenanigans.

Vanessa Stephens

I don’t see any need to change. I read my handbook.

Gretchen Wehmhoff


The mail-in ballots have increased participation in our elections. I believe the municipality, through our clerk’s office and election workers, has done a good job.

District 3 - Seat D - West Anchorage

Kameron Perez-Verdia

Anchorage does a great job of running municipal elections. I served on the MOA’s Vote by Mail Stakeholder Group, tasked with developing and leading Anchorage’s Vote By Mail initiative. I was so proud to see Vote By Mail pass, and even more encouraged by the increased voter turnout we saw in the first election after its adoption. Our local elections are safe and secure and make it much easier for Anchorage residents to have a say in how they are represented in our municipal government.

Liz Vazquez

No, many citizens in Anchorage question the integrity and validity of elections. An audit is needed to identify areas that can be improved to provide more confidence in the electoral process.

Nial Sherwood Williams

No openness, no transparency, and certainly no accountability. The municipal clerk borders on being a fourth branch of government. My campaign will be challenging the constitutionality of, among other changes, those restricting videography inside elections headquarters. I challenge 1,000 Anchorage citizens to do the same. We the people must control the elections, not a tyrannical unelected bureaucrat.

District 4 - Seat F - Midtown

Kathy Henslee

The last municipal election had some issues that made the process seem insecure. I would like to go back to in-person voting. The process was less expensive, more secure and we got the results a lot faster! There is no reason that we cannot have secure, transparent, fair elections in Anchorage.

Meg Zaletel

Yes, they do. The municipality is very transparent. The clerk’s office has made voting as accessible as possible. This year they implemented a ballot tracking system so voters can track when their ballot is received and counted. Vote by mail allows more voters to participate. The reality is many people can’t leave their jobs and families to vote. By allowing people to vote by mail, we see increased participation. At the same time, the checks and balances remain in place to ensure the integrity of our election. During a recent forum, my opponent said she never had a problem making it to the polls in person. Unfortunately, that is a privilege many Anchorage voters don’t have, which is why we see more participation when vote by mail is an option and why we need to protect this option.

District 5 - Seat H - East Anchorage

Forrest Dunbar

We recently passed changes to improve transparency, communication, and certain election timelines, so there are always ways to get better. However, in general, yes, our clerk’s office runs our municipal elections well. I was very disappointed to see some of the harassment of election workers that took place last year, and it has been disturbing to hear my opponent question the legitimacy and integrity of local elections and vote-by-mail, without evidence. Vote-by-mail is secure, has tremendously increased turnout, and has worked particularly well for elderly residents and people with mobility challenges. In addition, this year’s “Track My Ballot” system should help people understand if their ballot has been received, which I know can be stressful.

Christopher Hall


The city should not be in charge of elections. I don’t understand why the city Assembly has so much power where the only thing they were supposed to do is worry about what happens inside the city limits of Anchorage, we don’t understand or control Eagle River, we don’t understand or control Girdwood.

Stephanie Taylor

The switch to mail-in elections did not yield the expected outcomes. The system was supposed to be less costly and increase voter turnout. Instead, it complicated a simple process, at great expense. Mail-in voting has also resulted in a significant lack of voter confidence in the integrity of the election process. When people lack confidence in the voting system, voter turnout is affected. Absentee voting has always been a great option for those unable to get to the polls on election day. By returning to in-person voting in November, we could reduce costs by combining with the state elections and receive more timely election results.

District 6 - Seat J - South Anchorage

Darin Colbry

I think they are doing a great job. The only thing I might change is try a choice-ranking system. It works in some states.

Randy Sulte

Running an election is a very difficult job that I would not wish on anyone. I would support a move back to in-person voting, potentially over several days, while maintaining a requested mail-in option as we have for absentee ballots in the past. It is my understanding that an election can cost up to $600,000 and I would support moving April elections to a single November timeframe to be more efficient. I believe we need to better control our voter rolls to ensure ballots are mailed to the right recipient, avoiding the potential for missed deliveries and fraudulent votes. I would also like to see more stability in our election rules as we have seen donation changes occur twice in the current election thereby changing the rules within weeks of ballots being mailed out (this creates further voter skepticism from in an already distrustful atmosphere).


John Weddleton

We have a good elections system and voting at home is popular. Every year I have been on the Assembly, the Elections Commission has recommended improvements. We made a long list of improvements to the system in January. At our most recent Assembly meeting, we honored the election workers and in a joint statement, the chair and the mayor stood in support of the changes and outlined what they are doing to implement them. We need to continue to coax the state to clean up the voter registration list. I recommended we require out-of-state voters to request a ballot instead of automatically receiving one in the mail. That did not pass this year but should still be reconsidered. As we learn over the years, we will continue to make changes.

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Read more Q&As with Anchorage Assembly candidates:

What is a short summary of your background?

Why are you running?

What makes you qualified to serve on the Anchorage Assembly?

What is the most important problem facing Anchorage? How would you address it?

What is the most important problem facing your district? How would you address it?

What is your vision of the role of local government in Anchorage?

Rate Dave Bronson’s performance as mayor. Explain, with specific examples.

Rate the performance of the current Assembly. Explain, with specific examples.

The past two years have been marked by increased civic discord in Anchorage. How would you improve the quality of civic discourse in the city?


What’s your vision for improving and diversifying Anchorage’s economy?

What do you see as the most effective strategies to address homelessness in Anchorage going forward?

What’s your assessment of Anchorage’s transportation infrastructure? How would you improve it?

Does the city do a good job of running municipal elections? Would you push for changes? Explain.

Do you acknowledge the results of the 2020 presidential election? Also, what are your thoughts on what took place on Jan. 6, 2021 in the U.S. Capitol?

What’s one thing that makes you hopeful about Anchorage’s future?

What other important issue would you like to discuss?