Lessons learned: First-time candidate Mao Tosi ready for another possible political run

Mao Tosi, the former NFL lineman and current Anchorage community activist, is relaxing these days. He got 20.4 percent of the vote in last week's Anchorage municipal election race for Assembly Seat I -- thousands of votes shy of what he would have needed to win a three-way race.

After absentee and questioned ballots were counted April 12 at City Hall, Tosi ended with 1,727 votes -- trailing incumbent Adam Trombley (3,272) and winner Pete Petersen (3,653 votes).

Even though the outcome isn't what he had worked for, Tosi said he is happy with the way the race ended. But it was a rough beginning for the political novice.

Just two days after filing to run, Tosi was the subject of a 15-count elections complaint. After review, the Alaska Public Offices Commission ruled that five of the allegations were true and fined Tosi $350 -- a reduced amount because APOC said Tosi's newness to politics was a major contributing factor in the violations, which included using his business office at the Northway Mall for campaign purposes and failing to properly label campaign fliers.

As Tosi sits on the sidelines -- watching as the fates of incumbent Adam Trombley and challenger Pete Petersen hang in the balance -- the once and possibly future candidate for political office said he has no regrets about the election, its outcome, or his campaign. Tosi said he raised and spent about $4,000 on his grassroots effort, far less than campaigns in support of Trombley and Peterson, which exceeded $100,000 apiece.

The East Anchorage Assembly race was considered pivotal in deciding who would control the almost evenly-divided Assembly -- liberals or conservatives.

"I jumped into a gang war, it seemed like, but I stood my ground and fought valiantly, I think," Tosi said.


Tosi said he is happy to be back to doing what he used to -- managing the Northway Mall in East Anchorage, working with local kids through his non-profit, Alaska Pride, and being an engaged dad to his five kids. As for the future? Tosi said he wants to see more diversity on the 11-member Anchorage Assembly. His biggest regret, though, is that so few people voted on April 1. About 20 percent of registered Anchorage voters turned out at the polls -- a number that is about average for municipal elections.

"I was more discouraged by the lack of people voting, than the fact I lost," Tosi said.

Contact Sean Doogan at sean(at)

Sean Doogan

Sean Doogan is a former reporter for Alaska Dispatch and Alaska Dispatch News.