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: Rate Dave Bronson’s performance as mayor. Explain, with specific examples.
District 2 - Seat A - Eagle River/Chugiak
Mayor Bronson is working hard to reduce spending and promote cost consciousness. Sadly, there are nine on the Assembly who support big government and higher taxes, which was proven when nearly all the mayor’s budget cuts were vetoed from the $550 million 2022 operating budget, despite our looming budget issues. Even his appointments that should have had little to no issue (example: Carrie Jamie for Animal Control Board) were politicized and treated with hostility, delayed, interrogated, and made suspect. Mayor Bronson was elected because the citizens of Anchorage are tired of “business as usual” in government. It appears not all appreciate that message.
I’d probably give him a B-. Squabbles and fights, any childish disagreements with the Assembly, only bring public focus to bear on all facets of the administration. And another big reason prompting me to run for the Assembly. The mayor’s uninformed shutting off of the fluoride additive to our public water supply seemed an odd thing to do. And I have yet to hear an explanation.
While the mayor may have run on what he believed to be true and worthy intentions, his lack of legislative understanding and inability to follow understood policies and collaborative behavior has impeded his ability to build trust and lead with transparency and humility.
District 3 - Seat D - West Anchorage
The mayor and his administration had a rocky start, but I am heartened by recent cooperation with the Assembly on working to solve critical issues in our city such as homelessness.
Mayor Dave Bronson is trying to work with the Assembly on homelessness issues and there is progress in this area. However, in many instances, the Assembly blocks the initiatives of the mayor and does not want to work with the mayor.
Bronson ran on a ticket of open government, but the doors to the mayors office are locked. First Amendment rights to petition government for a redress of grievances cannot be abridged. He needs to honor his oath of office, which is to support and defend the constitution of the state of Alaska in the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies foreign and domestic. The disgraceful mass care system at Sullivan Arena is a human rights disaster.
District 4 - Seat F - Midtown
Mayor Bronson has worked on all the issues he said were important to him when he was running for office. Unfortunately, he has often been blocked by this uncooperative Assembly. I believe with a more reasonable Assembly, Mayor Bronson would accomplish a lot for Anchorage.
The mayor has carried forward good work, such as the Port of Alaska, homelessness, and Accessible Dwelling Units (ADUs). He’s also been a partisan lightning rod who was slow to stop some very concerning behavior in the chambers (such as initially defending the use of Holocaust imagery by those who didn’t want to wear masks). I think if he continues on just doing the work that needs to be done and stays out of the partisan politics that are driving so much discord, he will be a much more effective leader.
It’s very important that the Assembly and executive branch work collaboratively and amicably to make sure that the important work of keeping our city running is accomplished. Unfortunately, it’s the flashy topics that tend to be more polarizing and make the news, and that’s what people see, and that’s why they imagine the executive branch and the Assembly are openly hostile as they work together. For the most part, this isn’t the case.
District 5 - Seat H - East Anchorage
I am committed to working with Mayor Bronson on policies that will benefit East Anchorage, and standing up to him when his actions are harmful. His attempt to put a 1000-bed megashelter in East Anchorage was bad for the neighborhood and for people experiencing homelessness. He attempted to cut every park improvement in East Anchorage, cut the school resource officers program (then went onto social media and claimed that he wasn’t), cut $1,000,000 from pre-K, and tried to eliminate the Mental Health First Responders Program, all while increasing the number of expensive political appointees. He has violated long-held norms that have kept the city running, including attempting to control the Assembly Chambers and standing by as his deputy dismissed security and cut the video feed to our meeting. I’m glad we can work collaboratively on fixing the Port, a better homelessness plan and keeping Anchorage safe, and hope in the coming year he pivots to a less divisive approach to governing.
I can’t rate someone whose every action has been fought by the council.
I believe that the people elected Mayor Bronson as a clear message to the Assembly of their dissatisfaction with the Assembly’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Under Mayor Bronson’s leadership, Public Works has streamlined, simplified, and integrated the permitting process for builders and contractors. Since he took office, he has proposed solutions to our homelessness crisis. While his proposal may have had some issues, the discussion could have moved us closer to a workable solution. The mayor and the Assembly need to be able to find common ground to solve the urgent issues of our city. He has also attempted to reduce the budget to a reasonable degree and has been hampered from doing so by our current Assembly. I would work with the duly elected mayor to help bring the best solutions possible in the time we have. No solution will be perfect, and I am not looking to rubber-stamp the actions of the mayor, but to be open to working with him to make progress toward shared goals.
District 6 - Seat J - South Anchorage
I give him a 10 because he has an Assembly that is hard to work with.
I would rate the current administration an 8 or 9 based on the fact that Anchorage has a defined and broadly supported solution to improve homelessness and his efforts to petition the state to rebuild the Port of Alaska and a specific section of the port to ensure security of supply for Alaska while the remainder of the port is rebuilt. I would also cite recent adopted changes to Title 21 proposed by his administration. I was also very pleased to see him hold an unruly citizen (who was actually in support of him) accountable for their behavior at a recent Assembly meeting.
It was a rough start, but I see better coordination now and I expect the mayor and Assembly to do great things in the future. Building a new administration is always a challenge. Mayor Bronson came to the job with no experience with governing. That led to stumbles and challenges working with the Assembly. Our system of government is designed with checks and balances between the executive branch and the legislative branch, which creates a natural tension that seems to have been a surprise. Where we have common goals, we are working well together. We are aligned on the Port. We share support for our police. Notably, the mayor’s emphasis on using MOA resources to address homelessness is new and needed. We are working together to follow the path we all agreed to.
Read more Q&As with Anchorage Assembly candidates: