Anchorage Assembly candidate Q&As: What is your vision of the role of local government in Anchorage?

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 your vision of the role of local government in Anchorage?

District 2 - Seat A - Eagle River/Chugiak

Kevin Cross

To listen to and respect the will of our citizens, protect the rights of individuals and businesses, manage necessary services for public safety, support and inspire increased educational standards, hold every dollar accountable, adhere to the Constitution of the United States, and to our charter.

Vanessa Stephens

Direct local and federal funds to the most beneficial targets and projects for their constituents. They make decisions based on the needs and desires of citizens while minimizing government expenses and exorbitant spending to accomplish and provide the best solutions environmentally, while providing opportunities for all citizens and children.

Gretchen Wehmhoff


Local government should reflect the community in clear and cooperative means. Local government needs to be as open and productive as possible. Infighting and rude behavior from our representatives does not encourage public participation. In fact, it deters collaboration and enables intimidation.

District 3 - Seat D - West Anchorage

Kameron Perez-Verdia

The primary role of local government in Anchorage is providing core services for the city’s residents. That includes ensuring public safety through the employment of police officers and firefighters, maintaining core infrastructure like roads and bridges, and providing a forum where community members can voice their concerns and seek collective action to address local issues. There are other more niche roles which our local government fills which include zoning and local policy aimed at making our city a great place to live, work, and play.

Liz Vazquez

For the Assembly to encourage and support the following: economic prosperity to include good jobs, good infrastructure and good educational results for our children. In addition, the Assembly needs to be transparent, accountable and be civil and polite with each other and the public.

Nial Sherwood Williams

Local government should be limited. Our municipal charter being over 2000 pages currently shows how far government has gotten off its original course. In our original municipal charter written in commission in 1959, there were less than 30 pages. And the original intent of government was extremely limited. It is time we return to this strictly limited local government that does not consistently infringe the rights of citizens.

District 4 - Seat F - Midtown

Kathy Henslee

The main responsibility of the Anchorage Assembly is tackling crime, working to reduce homelessness, encouraging development, revitalizing our depressed economy and taking care of our all important infrastructure. Local government should be promoting quality of life and economic growth.

Meg Zaletel

Local government should be responsive to local needs and balance immediate needs with forward-looking sustainability. That means listening to Anchorage residents to understand what they need to thrive and plan for the future. It means the Assembly may make decisions that are not always popular, yet those decisions balance the needs of many while putting into context the long-term vision for Anchorage that improves all residents’ lives.

District 5 - Seat H - East Anchorage

Forrest Dunbar

Local government is primarily about providing basic public services: police, fire, snow removal, road maintenance and other things that help a municipality function. Most of the work we do on the Assembly is unexciting and wonkish, but essential. For my first four years on the body, when we did have significant public testimony it was usually about rezones, liquor licenses, or the other neighborhood issues that folks turn to their local government to address. Unfortunately, shortly after the start of the pandemic, we started to see national political rhetoric increasingly brought into the debate, as bloggers, talk radio and social media groups saw an opportunity to rile people up and score political points. As the pandemic subsides, I am hopeful that we can get back to the core functions of our local government. Of course, that will not happen if the same forces that nationalized our politics over the last two years succeed in winning this Assembly election.

Christopher Hall


I want my voters to keep their respect and keep their money.

Stephanie Taylor

The primary focus of local government should be to provide basic services that people cannot provide for themselves. Basics like road maintenance, snow removal, electricity, water, and waste management are among these essential services – services that affect everyone. Law-abiding residents need to feel safe with adequate police protection and emergency/fire services. The Assembly is also responsible for making sure our schools operate with prudence and serve our communities well. Those basic needs cover about 70% of the municipal budget. I believe that when the local government gets too much control and money, power shifts away from the people and can often lead to corruption and chaos. As Assembly members, we must guard against thinking we know better than the people we serve.

District 6 - Seat J - South Anchorage

Darin Colbry

Keeping them from overreaching; helping us when we need it.

Randy Sulte

Local government exists to efficiently support the needs of the citizens where a collective system is required, such as police, fire, road maintenance and education. It is to establish code and laws that allow for the city to function and maintain peace, safety, health, and prosperity as well as the execution and enforcement of that code. It has a role in supporting business development and promoting economic prosperity.


John Weddleton

In the largest sense, local government should provide a foundation for residents to prosper, to find happiness and to build the lives they choose. To do that, we join together to police ourselves, to provide emergency services, significant infrastructure like our transportation system, schools and parks. There is a lot of acceptance that these are reasonable. Where we get in trouble is at the margins. How much of those things do we need? Should we go beyond the basics and make Anchorage a really nice place to “Live, work, play and stay?” Or should we keep it simple so we are just a cheap place to sleep? We need to play to our strengths and make Anchorage a unique and exceptional place to be, or people will go elsewhere. We have seen over the past few years voters are willing to invest in improving Anchorage when they pass our various bonds, including school repairs, park upgrades, new trails and streets that work for cars and also for pedestrians and cyclists.

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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?