Anchorage Assembly candidate Q&As: What is the most important problem facing your district?

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

District 2 - Seat A - Eagle River/Chugiak

Kevin Cross

Taxation without representation. District 2 disproportionally pays a larger sum in property taxes than we receive in benefit. Additionally, we require less from public services since we are a low crime area. While we continue to grow with new housing out pacing the rest of Anchorage, we struggle to get our share of road improvement funds and services. Example: The lack of respect by the current Assembly members who recently referred to District 2, and areas of Hillside, as “people of wealth and privilege” when discussing reapportionment. Transparency in government is how we solve this, and transparency is currently lacking.

Vanessa Stephens

Community planning for one. Road maintenance. Safer schools. Infrastructure management. But the most important is probably recovering our economy from the devastating effects of COVID and our rebuilding efforts by supporting our friends and neighbors.

Gretchen Wehmhoff


Chugiak/Eagle River has a strong comprehensive plan, different zoning rules and policies than most of Anchorage. As developers look to the area for development opportunities, we need to both protect our way of life while revisiting our comprehensive plan. However, a major issue is a PR issue. Our district has been seen in a negative light due to the aggressive and intolerant behavior of a few.

District 3 - Seat D - West Anchorage

Kameron Perez-Verdia

The No. 1 issue I am hearing about when knocking on doors is theft and petty crime. In addition to my answer above, I have been advocating for improved community policing through better coordination and support of neighborhood watch programs. I would also reiterate how much of a game changer this mobile crisis team could be for our city. Though the program is only one year old, it has already shown potential to significantly decrease costs related to public safety and overtime worked by our police officers and firefighters. This is also an example of an area where I have stood up for the interests of my constituents. The mayor’s budget proposal would have eliminated this program, but I fought to maintain its funding to keep residents safe and efficiently use the resources we have to continue addressing crime and issues of safety in our city.

Liz Vazquez

Several development projects and the need to balance the needs of the residents and with the needs of commercial enterprises seeking to develop projects in West Anchorage. In addition, improving the local economy and public safety is critical to the well being of the district.

Nial Sherwood Williams

The most important problem facing West Anchorage is the integration of Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport with the Port of Alaska and with the Alaskan railroad system. This is the true and real infrastructure that will provide viability and sustainability for generations to come here in Anchorage Alaska. We must cut the governmental red tape and out-of-control bureaucrats and stop kissing the ring of the unions. It is time to have a 21st century tri-use-transportation facility that integrates: rail car, air cargo, and port freight.

District 4 - Seat F - Midtown

Kathy Henslee

Government overreach in small businesses including shutting them down and having unreliable and unreasonable mandates. Many small business owners have struggled to keep their doors open and provide for their families. I would help small businesses by reducing costs for permitting, giving tax incentives and encouraging development and innovation. Also, working on quality-of-life issues like crime and homelessness attracts businesses to come back to Midtown. People in Anchorage know how to work, let’s let them get back to it without the government on their backs.

Meg Zaletel

The most important problem facing my district is the same problem facing the rest of Anchorage – economic recovery from COVID-19. Like most things we do on the Assembly, there is no silver bullet to economic recovery. Our recovery needs to be driven by our small business owners (many who live and operate businesses in Midtown), their employers, our economic experts such as AEDC and the Chamber, and our nonprofit groups. We must look at all angles and listen to all of the voices so we can move forward together. All Anchorage residents benefit from building a sound economic future for our city, so this, in my opinion, is our highest priority.

District 5 - Seat H - East Anchorage

Forrest Dunbar

East Anchorage has the same public safety concerns as much of Anchorage, but another pressing issue in our district is affordable housing and cost of living. We are a heavily residential district, one of the densest in the state. As everyone knows, the price of housing has increased substantially, driven primarily by a lack of supply. In addition to using the ML&P sales proceeds to offset property taxes, I also voted in 2017 to increase the residential property tax exemption from $20k to $50k, the maximum allowed under state law. There is a bill now at the state Legislature to increase that to $70k; if it passes, I will vote to adopt that increase in order to lower taxes. I am also a strong supporter of the proposal to provide $1300 of relief per-person to address the price of fuel. Finally, I will continue to support efforts to make it easier to build, including changes to Title 21 and Title 23, more accessory dwelling units (mother-in-law apartments), and a permit fee holiday.

Christopher Hall


The most important thing in my district it appears to be the candidates have been bought. They have spent more money than there are voters by a lot.

Stephanie Taylor

The main issues of District 5 are not unlike issues facing many districts in the city: homelessness, lack of motivated workers to fill jobs and poor street maintenance. I’ve already addressed the homelessness crisis in the previous question. We need to encourage people who were laid off during the pandemic to get back into the workforce. Able-bodied individuals need to get back into the workforce instead of becoming dependent on unemployment. As for our street maintenance, I would like to investigate other approaches to snow removal. If we approach snow removal differently, it could result in an overall reduction in road repair costs.

District 6 - Seat J - South Anchorage

Darin Colbry

Public safety. I would get more patrols in neighborhoods at night.

Randy Sulte

District 6 faces land development issues that conflict with a community supported district development plan and the desire to retain the community characteristics. We will need to balance Anchorage’s need for affordable and low-income housing while respecting the community residents’ wishes. This will require Title 21 changes to alter or remove code that is in conflict. It will also require the Assembly to offer logical solutions acting on behalf of the citizens and Anchorage’s needs.


John Weddleton

Salient citywide problems like homelessness, crime and property taxes are also South Anchorage problems. More specific to South Anchorage are the threat of wildfire, drainage problems, upgrading neighborhood roads and overloaded trailheads. I championed making life/safety roads an areawide function leading to Mountain Air as a new safety road. That will lead to another route to Bear Valley. I am working through the Hillside Resiliency Committee and others on these challenges. There is a good partnership with our local legislators and Assembly members preparing for the federal infrastructure funds. Hillside-focused efforts on stormwater were paused while an effort to look citywide was beginning. With that effort stalled, we’ll look again at Hillside solutions. Increased use of Chugach State Park puts pressure on neighborhoods that are not equipped to handle it. Much of the boundary with the Park is not in the Anchorage Parks and Rec Service Area, limiting the work we can do.

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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?