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Anchorage needs an admiral — and a moral compass

  • Author: Frank Dahl
    | Opinion
  • Updated: October 16
  • Published October 16

Downtown Anchorage, seen from Westchester Lagoon on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

Ever feel like you’re on a sinking ship?

The turn of events in the Municipality of Anchorage over the past week has caused such a sensation for me. We’re off course and perilously close to the rocks.

The Municipality’s logo is fitting with its vessel and anchor. Maybe we need to add a lifebuoy to the logo, too?

The spectacle from our mayoral leadership is unfortunate. And the irony is, three years ago I was encouraged by a restaurateur, resource development advocate and thoughtful single mother named Rebecca Logan, who was the incumbent mayor’s challenger.

I recall one of Ms. Logan’s ads highlighted Anchorage’s high murder and crime rate, and reminded voters we don’t need headlines of this nature that place a dark cloud over our communities, but rather an engaged, ethical mayor who steers us away from storms.

Float ahead a bit to the present, and look what we have. We’re in the national headlines — and still for the wrong reasons.

Sans Mayor Ethan Berkowitz in another week, the Anchorage Assembly is still liberal and anti-business by about nine members, give or take a few on select policies.

The Assembly’s most recent emergency order extension to the end of November is not just outrageous, but lacks efficacy and merit. Recall this is the fifth emergency declaration extension. It’s a shortsighted, selfish directive that continues to lessen patronage of businesses, adversely affect commerce and leak into education and transportation sectors, resulting in travel limitations and empty classrooms.

Enough already! Time for a new crew.

We really need Assembly members in coming years who are business-savvy, with kids or grandkids in local schools, and who have neighbors and fellow church members and members of the citizenry who express opinions and concerns. Experience and empathy with what voters are suffering is imperative. It will ensure a mayor the likes of Berkowitz can never harm our city again.

We need more veterans serving in government as decision- and rule-makers. We need law enforcement officers, teachers, nurses and medical practitioners. The more actual business owners — not shareholders and investors — on the Assembly, the better, because they feel the pain of fiscal debilitation caused by overreaching rules like we’ve faced the last six-plus months in Anchorage. We need candidates to run for office who have signed paychecks, met bottom lines and were accountable.

What we have today is a broken government and a collective of incompetent policymakers. No, maybe not members like Jaime Allard, Crystal Kennedy and John Weddleton, but the majority of them.

Is it a Republican-vs.-Democrat evaluation on who is superior? I’m not sure. But fiscal and social conservatism matter to me, and likely to many more in Anchorage. They need to vote their conscience!

For now, about the only hopeful light on the horizon is a 2021 April mayoral election. It may very well be the most important in the Municipality’s history, because we’re close to plummeting to the bottom of whatever moral, fiscal and social hurricane we’re currently adrift in and getting battered by.

I hope our next mayor holds tight to a moral compass and is guided by it as he takes the helm.

Smooth sailing is possible with the right admiral and crew. Otherwise we’ll truly be a sinking ship at a great expense mostly to future generations.

Frank Dahl is a boating enthusiast. He has owned bars, restaurants and lodges throughout Alaska and in the Lower 48 for more than five decades, including Blues Central at the Chef’s Inn. As the founder of Anchorage CHARR and a former Board Member of Alaska CHARR, he has been active in hospitality and tourism industry policy development for years. He is a member of Rotary and a recipient of an Alaska Legislative citation for public service.

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