Anchorage Assembly candidate Q&As: What makes you qualified to serve on the Anchorage 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: What makes you qualified to serve on the Anchorage Assembly?

District 2 - Seat A - Eagle River/Chugiak

Kevin Cross

I am born and raised in Anchorage, and I’ve worked in a multitude of private industries and have seen the effects of well-intended but poorly executed government time and again. As a commercial real estate broker, I have helped hundreds of people build businesses and know the difficulties of being an entrepreneur. As a commercial loan broker, I see the financial burdens imposed by regulations and redundancy. As the 2014 president of the Anchorage Board of Realtors, I worked to protect private property rights. Serving on the platting board has allowed me to gain knowledge regarding the long-range development plans for Anchorage and recognize the challenges and opportunities these bring. As a remodel contractor, I have climbed the burdensome hurdles of the permitting office and seen first-hand the battles our contractors face daily. Finally, I’m a fierce defender of individual rights and not one to sacrifice freedoms out of fear.

Vanessa Stephens

I have experience with the municipality and funding and lack thereof. I have experience starting and building a successful business. I have experience managing the most productive gas station ever in the state. I have a degree in computers which promotes logical thinking. And I have patience, having raised two boys and two girls to adults.

Gretchen Wehmhoff


In addition to my work on different boards and my time on the Assembly, I am a communicator, I have the life experience from teaching and living in my district and the ability to pull conversations together for productive results. I play well with others.

District 3 - Seat D - West Anchorage

Kameron Perez-Verdia

I have spent the last 25 years leading nonprofit organizations: building teams, balancing budgets, resolving conflict and finding innovative solutions to complex challenges. My work has strengthened communities by addressing some of our most difficult challenges including homelessness, mental health, addiction, poverty and public education. The strengths I bring to this office are my open mind, desire to listen and find solutions, practical problem solving, and commitment to the people of Anchorage. Since I joined the Assembly in 2019, my colleagues and I have made tough decisions as we navigated a global pandemic and worked to do more with less without the financial support our city historically received from the state. The experience I have gained in these roles, my commitment to solving complex problems in my community, and my approach of listening intently to all perspectives in making important decisions for our city make me qualified to serve another term on the Assembly.

Liz Vazquez

I have extensive experience to include serving on several city commissions that have dealt with policy and budgetary issues. I have served on the Anchorage budget advisory commission and school district budget advisory commissions. In addition, I have knowledge of the energy sector because I served on the Chugach Electric Association. Because I served in the Alaska state Legislature, I know how how the Legislature works and how to implement that knowledge to assist the city of Anchorage. In addition, because of my previous employment, I am knowledgeable how the state and federal government function.

Nial Sherwood Williams

I will hold all council members accountable to their oaths of office to defend the Constitution of the United States of America and the constitution of our state of Alaska. I will do so by requiring openness and transparency in all aspects of government. Both parties have been lacked integrity to the promises given. Time for change.

District 4 - Seat F - Midtown

Kathy Henslee

My involvement in many businesses and our community gives me a unique understanding into the issues Anchorage faces. As a business owner, I have experience with budgets, economic issues, policies and processes. My involvement in our community includes helping to write and implement the first charter school in Anchorage, The Family Partnership Charter School. I also was the transitional housing and program director for Priceless Alaska, a faith based nonprofit organization working to end sex trafficking in Alaska. I am task oriented and goal driven.

Meg Zaletel

As a small business owner, attorney, mother, wife and community advocate, I bring a diverse perspective to the Assembly, and I’m committed to listening and working with the other Assembly members, the administration, and members of the community to move our city forward. I always stand up for what I believe is right, and I’m constantly striving to have a deep and broad perspective of every issue that comes before me. I have consistently brought forward real solutions to our most pressing problems by diving deep into the issues to understand them from multiple perspectives within the community. I never shy away from taking leadership roles on some of our most pressing issues. I understand the importance of balancing the immediate needs of our city with developing a forward-looking vision for Anchorage. I try to keep a “people first” approach at the core of everything I do.

District 5 - Seat H - East Anchorage

Forrest Dunbar

The most important qualification for the Anchorage Assembly is an ability and desire to serve your constituents, as well as the will to stand up for them, regardless of who a proposal comes from. I have demonstrated those qualities during my time on the Assembly, responding to countless constituent messages, getting road, drainage, and pedestrian projects funded and built, directing Municipal resources towards problem properties and misused parking lots, working with the community to fund park improvements, from Kilikiti facilities in Dave Rose Park to the new Chugach Foothills Connector near the Tudor-Muldoon Curve, and more. I stood up to the prior mayor when he tried to put a bus barn too close to residential areas in Muldoon, until we found a less harmful location, and stopped the current mayor’s plan to put a 1000-bed megashelter on Tudor. Now the Assembly and Administration are working together on better solutions to homelessness, for both the clients and the neighborhood.

Christopher Hall


I understand history, law, business and care about my locality.

Stephanie Taylor

As a longtime resident, I have a unique perspective and insight into the history of our city, and personal concern for its well-being. I have served this city through decades of volunteer work and have reared and homeschooled our five children, who are all successful, caring, and responsible members of their communities. I know this city inside and out, and my active community participation has led to fresh ideas and the ability to work alongside people from all walks of life. I respect my neighbors and have the ability to listen well and make reasonable decisions for the good of all.

District 6 - Seat J - South Anchorage

Darin Colbry

I know what it is like to be struggle to make ends meet as a low-income person.

Randy Sulte

The simple answer is I am a resident of Anchorage and live in District 6. I have an engineering degree from the Colorado School of Mines, and MBA from Seattle University. I worked for Nalco Chemical Company, leaving as the Alaska Manager, then spent nearly 10 years at BP as the Integrity and Execution Manager, and now I currently serve as COO of Kakivik and CCI Industrial. I was past president of Rilke Schule Incorporated and have served on the board of Hilltop Ski Area since 2006. I have a history of successfully leading large teams and navigating difficult issues.


John Weddleton

Six years ago I brought over 30 years as a business owner and 20 years of community experience in local governing to the job of the Assembly. I promised to focus on the work and not the politics. I did that. I enjoy the work. I’m good at the work. Experience matters. Decades of involvement with local government on the other side of the dais helps me understand the challenges and opportunities. I know and work well with the people involved. I also learned to focus on problem solving, not political posturing. Good problem solving requires listening generously to all and recognizing we all have blind spots. I make an effort to reach out to people and groups with diverse viewpoints. I work well with all of the other Assembly members. I work well with the mayor and his team. Most importantly, I work well with the community. Together, we are getting things done.

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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?