Anchorage Assembly candidate Q&As: Rate the performance of the current Assembly.

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

District 2 - Seat A - Eagle River/Chugiak

Kevin Cross

A majority of the Assembly has acted in a way that undermines the trust of the people of Anchorage. AO 2021-117 moved to directly limit public testimony, limit speech, and expand the powers of the chair unreasonably. No other Board or Commission that addresses the public in the same manner has acted so brazen. Executive sessions have been sealed, emails have been blacked out, and public testimony has been ignored in order to push an agenda that did not represent the will of the people. We have the God-given right to present our grievances to our elected officials even if they do not agree. Manipulating dates for public testimony to avoid hearing from the public is insulting to the heart of democracy. This process is critical, and the trust must be reinforced since elections and open dialog are the peaceful means for a society to share discontent. Recently, Chris Constant referred to District 2, and areas of the Hillside as “people of wealth and privilege” when discussing reapportionment. This is just bad behavior and we should demand better of the Assembly.

Vanessa Stephens

A “B,” and I give that for some leeway on things I don’t know. They spent several days over one issue hearing testimony on a mask mandate? Back in October as COVID was peaking they again voted to mask everyone indoors up. Less than two months later it was reversed. It seemed like a mayor/Assembly dispute that could have been avoided. A “squabble” between the two also broke out over who controls Assembly space. Why can’t they resolve differences without the public drama?

Gretchen Wehmhoff


In general, the Assembly has attempted to maintain professionalism, but the constant stress of trying to get work done with those who don’t value the democratic process has slowed down the people’s business.

District 3 - Seat D - West Anchorage

Kameron Perez-Verdia

The past few years have been tough for everyone, and it was incredibly challenging to lead our city through a global pandemic with a continually shifting landscape of guidance and information. I am proud of what we’ve accomplished as a body — both on issues that predate the pandemic and in the domain of keeping Anchorage residents safe while offering rent relief and financial assistance to local businesses. I am running for reelection because we still have much to do in order to build a better and brighter future for our city, but I know that this group is more than capable of learning from our mistakes and building on our many achievements to achieve that lofty goal together.

Liz Vazquez

Poor. No civility with each other and members of the public. No transparency and accountability. Misspending federal funds. In addition, the Assembly continues to increase the city budget and taxes while at the same time not getting better results from the monies spent.

Nial Sherwood Williams

The citizens of Anchorage are debt slaves to the political machine of Anchorage. The failure of the Assembly and the mayor to pass a balanced budget and the continuation of the bond program shows out of control and reckless policies. Assembly members have a fiduciary responsibility to the shareholders of the corporation of the Municipality of Anchorage. It is time that the criminals on the Assembly are held accountable for spending the citizens of Anchorage into debt slavery. Look at your property tax assessment: Most homes in Anchorage saw increases in assessed property value. Are your services any better for this additional that slavery your family has no incurred?

District 4 - Seat F - Midtown

Kathy Henslee

Because of this Assembly, Anchorage is in decline. They spend too much money and our property taxes climb. Crime is rampant and they continue to be soft on prosecution and not supportive of our police. Homelessness is exploding so they throw more money at the problem even though that has not been working. Our economy is struggling, our port is disintegrating and our residents and businesses are leaving. Their policies and ideas are failing Anchorage.

Meg Zaletel

This Assembly faced issues no Anchorage Assembly has faced before. The pandemic and its many unknowns forced us to assess and reassess our decisions on a near-daily basis. Most of us relied heavily on public health expert recommendations, and we fought hard for Anchorage’s fair share of state and federal economic relief.

While we remained focused on this mission, a small group of far-right citizens created a hostile environment for residents to participate in their local government in a meaningful way. That small group brought an onslaught of racist and anti-LGBTQ sentiments into Assembly chambers, spread disinformation, harassed and threatened Assembly members and staff, and derailed critical discussions. I commend every Assembly member who remained steadfast through this challenging time. People who choose public service jobs should never experience threats against themselves or their families.

District 5 - Seat H - East Anchorage

Forrest Dunbar

While our process can take too long, and there is always room for improvement, in general we have an experienced group who understand the issues, take the work seriously, and strive to do right by Anchorage. The Assembly restored funding for school resource officers, reversed cuts to pre-K education, passed a balanced budget, and directed tens of millions in COVID aid to small businesses, residents through rent relief, and nonprofits like Covenant House and the Food Bank. In addition to increasing the size of APD, we sold ML&P and put the money in the Municipal Trust, to generate long-term revenue and offset property taxes. We approved plans for the Port and the new petroleum and cement terminal is almost done. Over the last two years we have done the city’s business — approving bonds, rezones, and the normal items that keep our municipality functioning — in the face of disruptive, organized efforts to nationalize and politicize our work, which my opponent participated in and supported.


Christopher Hall

The Assembly has forgotten that they are servants of the people, they believe that anything they say, goes. The people will determine what is right or what is wrong.

Stephanie Taylor

The reason I’m running for office is because this Assembly has broken trust with the residents of Anchorage; made decisions that have exacerbated the homelessness crisis and contributed to the crippling of our local businesses, hampering the economic potential of our city. When navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, it was not the time to place additional burdens on local businesses, unfairly discriminating against them by deciding which businesses could operate and which could not. This Assembly took it upon themselves to arbitrarily decide under what capacity those businesses could operate. They also limited and at times even shut down public testimony which alienated them even further from hurting residents. They used federal dollars to pour money into temporary homeless shelter without a long-term plan for getting these residents off the streets and developing life skills to thrive. They make no apologies for their policies that have negatively impacted businesses small and large. And their plans are too little, too late for many businesses that have already been lost.

District 6 - Seat J - South Anchorage

Darin Colbry

Zero because they are overreaching and not letting the mayor run the city.

Randy Sulte


I would give the current Assembly a generous 2. I am appalled by the lack of respect, childish behavior and failure to respect citizens’ opinions and time during testimony. The 9-2 veto overrides of Anchorage’s duly elected Mayor demonstrate a lack of balance representing the majority’s wishes. I have watched appointment hearings that can be likened to public persecution as well as inconsistent and nonsensical COVID mandates that have harmed student development, destroyed small business and deeply divided our city. I would also cite the current reapportionment process that is being pushed through despite several community councils asking for more time.

John Weddleton

We are eleven very different individuals who have learned to work together. We have managed to get things done despite a very wide span of viewpoints on any issue. The tools of governing are ordinances and resolutions. Anything that gets on our agenda comes from at most three members or the mayor. In general, I have seen that members are open to discussing their proposals and improving them – even when the original proposal will likely get enough votes to pass. There is a willingness to continue working for a better result. Despite significant challenges like the ongoing state recession, the decrease in state revenue-sharing, the earthquake and the pandemic, this Assembly has managed to accomplish a lot.

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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?