As frustrations mount over mayoral campaign sign vandalism, Anchorage official says city worker mishandled complaint

An Anchorage city worker improperly handled enforcement of an issue with a campaign sign along a residential property, according to a city official.

The incident sparked concern from the resident who put up the sign, playing into larger, ongoing frustrations over the frequent destruction and defacing of campaign signs in Anchorage city races.

The resident, Yarrow Silvers, had placed just outside of her backyard fence a large mayoral campaign sign for former Assembly Chair Suzanne LaFrance. On Monday morning, Silvers saw a city worker throw the sign over her fence and into her yard, where it landed on her canoe. When she ran outside to ask the worker why he’d removed the sign without prior warning, the worker ran into his truck and drove away, Silvers said.

“You don’t do that. You don’t pick up a great big heavy campaign sign in a frame and throw it over somebody’s fence on top of their fiberglass canoe. There is no way that that is OK,” Silvers said.

Silvers is a vocal opponent of incumbent Mayor Dave Bronson and writes for the Alaska Current, a website associated with the 907 Initiative. The incident, which she posted about on social media, made her wonder whether the destructive removal of her sign by a city worker was politically motivated, she said.

John Snelson, chief of code enforcement for the municipality, said that’s not the case — but that the employee didn’t follow the proper process for dealing with the sign, which was an encroachment into the public right-of-way.

It was a newer employee who didn’t fully understand the process, and Snelson said he is investigating what happened.


“This is a hot button, and I can assure you that it wasn’t any deliberate act on the municipality to damage a campaign. That’s not who we are,” Snelson said.

It’s a common occurrence for some Anchorage campaign signs to be vandalized or stolen during city elections, and this year, mayoral candidates have reported numerous signs damaged or stolen.

In March, Mayor Dave Bronson’s reelection campaign reported to Anchorage police that at least 33 of their signs were vandalized with spray paint. The mayoral campaign for Suzanne LaFrance, a former Assembly chair, on Tuesday said it has seen at least 24 signs damaged or stolen since January.

“Vandalizing campaign signs — mine or anyone’s — doesn’t reflect the spirit of our city. Let’s show the strength of our democracy by engaging respectfully and focusing on the issues,” Bronson said in a March social media post. The post included photos of several large Bronson signs spray-painted with messages, including, “Dave Bronson 4 genocide,” “free Palestine” and “Dave Bronson the worst mayor.”

On Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the Anchorage Police Department said no charges have been filed so far but that the case is still open and active.

Last year, several candidates for the Assembly and Anchorage School Board said they experienced systematic destruction, stealing and defacing of large, expensive campaign signs across the city.

“We’re definitely seeing more and more reports of sign vandalism, just in the past week or two. ... We also had the two signs right outside of our campaign office torn down,” said Katie Scovic, LaFrance’s campaign manager. “It costs a lot of time and money to replace those signs around town, so it’s pretty resource intensive when we see that level of destruction.”

In the case of Silvers’ LaFrance sign, a person had emailed a complaint about it to the state of Alaska, and the state forwarded it to the city’s code enforcement, Snelson said. City code enforcement has limited resources and doesn’t actively patrol for right-of-way encroachments, but responds to complaints about violations, he said.

According to copies of the emails Silvers received through a records request, Travis Szanto, an active Bronson supporter who unsuccessfully ran for an Assembly seat last year, filed the complaint. Szanto did not immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment.

The city worker was sent to do a site visit to determine whether the sign was a problem. It was illegally placed but was not a hazard that would’ve warranted immediate removal, Snelson said. Under city code, the department should have mailed a letter to Silvers telling her to remove it within 20 days.

Silvers filed a police report and a complaint with the city.

“I think what was most shocking to me was the way that he ran back around to his truck and sped off through the school zone,” said Silvers, who took a photo of the truck.

Snelson said it’s unknown whether the worker violated the school speed zone and the Development Services Department is still looking into the matter.

Emily Goodykoontz

Emily Goodykoontz is a reporter covering Anchorage local government and general assignments. She previously covered breaking news at The Oregonian in Portland before joining ADN in 2020. Contact her at