We all expect, even demand, that our public officials fight for the values and policies we elected them for; the ones they articulated in their campaigns that earned our votes. We also expect them to cooperate with other elected officials with different goals and polices when they can, in order to achieve real results. Fight for your view of what is right and cooperate when you can.
The current Anchorage Assembly deserves praise for doing both well, despite unprecedented levels of vitriol and attacks at nearly every meeting from a small, angry group.
The Assembly and Mayor Dave Bronson have worked cooperatively together on a number of issues that are critical to the future of our community. After initial disagreements, they are well on their way to implementing a comprehensive plan to end homelessness, an undertaking that has been years in the making and will be transformative for our community.
The mayor has similarly joined the Assembly in its ongoing effort to promote a once-in-a-generation modernization of the Port of Alaska that will make our supply chain more resilient and stabilize the cost of business across Alaska.
While conflict gets more news coverage, there are numerous examples at every meeting of the Assembly and mayor getting things done on issues great and small. Working together, they approve contracts to purchase our police cars and snow plows, work with community councils and neighborhoods to review alcohol and marijuana licenses, and team up with businesses and nonprofits to improve the rules for our building codes and permit processes. Without this nonpartisan effort to put the interests of the municipality ahead of politics, our city would grind to a halt.
But, when faced with illegal actions or decisions that threaten the future health and success of Anchorage, the Assembly has pushed back. We did not elect this Assembly to abdicate its role.
When this Mayor nominated unqualified appointees to the library and health department, the Assembly rejected them or the nominees were withdrawn. When this mayor illegally threatened the safety of our water and illegally fired our civil rights watchdog, the Assembly opposed him. When this mayor forced out a great police chief, the Assembly investigated. When this Mayor cut funds for pre-kindergarten education and public safety, the Assembly restored the funding. I am glad they did. That is why we put them there.
A recent opinion piece by two former members of the Assembly made it seem as though the Assembly should have caved in or not fought for Anchorage on these issues in the name of bipartisanship cooperation with the mayor. As a former legislator, Assembly member and School Board member, I disagree. I believe they did just the right thing.
The Assembly cooperated with the mayor when they could and fought back when they had to. I would expect nothing less.
Eric Croft served in the Legislature from 1996-2006, on the Anchorage School Board from 2013-16, and on the Anchorage Assembly from 2016-19, including terms as ASB President and Assembly Chair.
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