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Two South Anchorage Assembly candidates withdraw from race

  • Author: Devin Kelly
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published January 28, 2016

Two candidates for the Anchorage Assembly from South Anchorage, Joe Riggs and David Jensen, said Thursday they have withdrawn from the race.

Riggs, 43, has hosted fundraisers since filing paperwork in July that would allow him to start accepting campaign donations. But Riggs, who runs his own medical equipment and consulting business, said he was essentially laid off a week ago by the large national company he represents, which prompted him to end his campaign.

"Let's just say, 'Obamacare' has been forcing some consolidations," Riggs said in a Thursday phone interview, describing a consequence to him of the Affordable Care Act. He said he's now trying to focus on his professional life and family.

Riggs, a member of the city's Budget Advisory Commission, said he intends to pay his bills and then put the money he's raised toward a future campaign.

"I may be down, but I'm not out," Riggs said. "I'll be looking for future opportunities to serve once my financial house is in order."

Jensen, the owner of a South Anchorage photography business, said he decided to withdraw after confronting an Alaska Public Offices Commission requirement to disclose clients who paid him $1,000 or more.

"It was an ethical dilemma for me to do that after the fact," Jensen said. "My customers hired me in advance, without knowing my plans to run for election."

A Midtown Anchorage Assembly candidate, Shirley Nelson, withdrew for similar reasons in December: She owns her own tutoring business, and did not want to disclose her clients, who she said included the parents of handicapped children.

Jensen said he was "really frustrated" with what he said was APOC's process for accommodating potential candidates who work in a client-oriented business. In a December interview, Paul Dauphinais, the director of APOC, said some exemptions are automatic -- such as for doctors or adoption attorneys -- but that the rules are in place for transparency purposes.

Jensen said he plans to seek office again in 2017. He said he plans to ask customers as he works with them if they would object to his releasing their names.

Jensen also said he was surprised by the partisan nature of the race since he announced his candidacy. He said he hopes more candidates end up running: "We need to have 3-4 folks on the ballot."

The exit of Riggs and Jensen leaves, at this point, two candidates vying to replace Jennifer Johnston, who has to leave office because of term limits and has announced a run for the Alaska Legislature. The other South Anchorage Assembly candidates are: John Weddleton, a business owner and longtime neighborhood activist; and Mark Schimscheimer, a rental property developer and manager, who said this week he was running.

Assembly candidate registration formally opens on Friday and runs through Feb. 12. Riggs said it's a little too early to say whether he'll make an endorsement, but he said he would support a conservative candidate; Jensen said he does not plan to endorse.