Anchorage mayoral and school board candidates speak directly to Gen Z

In a Chugiak High School auditorium, students on Thursday morning grilled some of the candidates running for Anchorage mayor and school board ahead of the city’s upcoming municipal election.

The students who helped put on the forum were members of an advanced placement government class, according to their teacher, Alyssa Logan. They asked candidates questions on issues like homelessness, and how they would keep schools funded and avoid snow plowing delays that plagued the city this winter and last.

Two school board candidates attended the forum: incumbents Pat Higgins and Carl Jacobs. Mayoral candidates Suzanne LaFrance, Bill Popp, Jenny Di Grappa, Breck Craig, and Dustin Darden also attended, in addition to Mark Littlefield, who is running unopposed to represent Eagle River on the Anchorage Assembly.

Logan said that hosting a candidate forum is her favorite way of helping her students fulfill their class’s civic action requirement because students always come away from them “really excited about voting and elections, and engaged more with the process,” she said.

[Q&As with 2024 candidates for Anchorage mayor and school board]

This year, she said, students were particularly engaged with some of the questions for school board members around school funding, “which most directly relates to them,” she said.

Afterwards, students said it was helpful for them to be able to hear directly from the candidates — and to be able to pay attention to things like body language and how the candidates carried themselves.


Seventeen-year-old Logan Young isn’t able to vote in this election, but said the high school graduation rate is an issue he cares about, and that it was “helpful to hear from them, face to face.”

Gavin Doseck, who recently turned 18, said he felt the forum gave him a better sense of where the candidates stood on the issues he cared about. “I really enjoyed it, and feel better informed,” he said.

“Almost everyone had one or two things they’re really firm about, and so it gave me a really good idea of like, if I know what I want as a voter, I know what to look for and what they stand for,” said Rowan Campbell, 18, who helped moderate the school board candidate forum.

“It’s really nice, as a first-time voter, just seeing these people — like here’s the vibes, here’s what they’re saying. Here’s what I know to look for when I’m researching them further,” Campbell said.

Ballots in Anchorage’s regular municipal election are due April 2.

Annie Berman

Annie Berman is a reporter covering health care, education and general assignments for the Anchorage Daily News. She previously reported for Mission Local and KQED in San Francisco before joining ADN in 2020. Contact her at