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Anchorage Assembly candidates: Why are you qualified?

  • Author: Devin Kelly
  • Updated: December 2, 2017
  • Published March 22, 2017

Alaska Dispatch News asked candidates for the April 4 election to the Anchorage Assembly and Anchorage School Board to answer a series of questions on issues facing those bodies. We're publishing their responses daily. The answers were fact-checked when facts were cited and edited for length, spelling, grammar and writing style.

In this part, Anchorage Assembly candidates talk about why they believe they are qualified to serve on the Assembly.

District 1: Downtown

Christopher Constant

Christopher Constant is a candidate for the assembly in the April 2017 election. (Candidate photo)

Having served as the president of the Fairview Community Council and actively engaged with all of the councils on District 1, I have spent thousands of hours improving our public safety, infrastructure, schools and general economy. I led the charge to close a terribly operating liquor store in our neighborhood. I helped steward the Fairview Neighborhood Plan, and raised $4 million to serve the homeless population in our neighborhood more effectively. I have a true record of accomplishment. 

Christopher Cox

Christopher Cox is a candidate for the Assembly in the April 2017 election. (Candidate provided photo)

I am qualified to serve on the Anchorage Assembly for several reasons. First, I am college-educated. Second, I have been in Anchorage for 39 years. Third, and most importantly I have been a small-business owner in Anchorage for 25 years. I have owned a hotel, two bars, Northern Stages Co. (a concert and event promotions company), used-car business, and the primary backbone of my business, real estate, where I have owned, managed and maintained up to 300 units. These businesses listed were owned simultaneously.  I've had a payroll of 47 employees also. Being on the Assembly is much like running a business, dealing with employees, handling a budget and such.

David Dunsmore

David Dunsmore is a candidate for Assembly in the April 2017 election. (Candidate photo)

I've lived in Anchorage for 31 years and can't imagine calling any place else my home. I love this town; that is why I am so passionate about giving back to this community. I've devoted my entire adult life to public service in Anchorage as a chief of staff in the Alaska Legislature, Anchorage Health and Human Services Commissioner, Assembly aide, and a local Road Service Board chair. I have the vision for a stronger, healthier and more prosperous Anchorage, and the proven skills and expertise to navigate the challenging political process to get things done.

Mark Alan Martinson

Having worked on many resource development projects throughout most of Alaska, I have seen many drastic changes in society; much of those changes are related to our energy consumption. In 40 years, Alaskans have gone from being energy-conservation experts to energy-consumption idiots. And over the years I have seen the Municipality of Anchorage lose its way in conserving energy for the designing, building and maintaining our building and other projects. I would like to see Anchorage insulate our existing public buildings before building any more and set the example of how to conserve instead of waste energy. Specifically: Let's turn off the heated sidewalks, insulate our glass roofs and walls, and expand mass transit.

Albert Langdon Swank Jr.

Albert Langdon Swank Jr., is a candidate for Assembly in the April 2017. (Candidate photo)

Life Anchorage resident since 1950. Engineer P.E.: civil / structural, mechanical. Forty-five years private engineering/scientific services business owner. Clients: states, counties, cities, governments (U.S. & foreign), industries, private developers, oil companies, contractors, hospitals, others. 

Experience: Private & public development, zoning, land use, planning, codes, economics, regulator (federal, state, local), nuclear research (U.S. federal laboratories, foreign governments), medical (Johns Hopkins, University Chicago Medical, others), business, management, contracts, legal, accounting, finance, taxation, union contracts, mergers, craft skills, construction, past state of Alaska and Anchorage borough employee.

Warren West

Warren West is a candidate for Assembly in the April 2017 election. (Candidate photo)

I believe I am qualified because of my life skills. I have served my country for 35 years. The Assemblyperson's main goal is to serve the people of their district. I have acquired degrees and skills in HR, logistics, electronics, and water and wastewater management. Some of my tasks in logistics have been writing operational plans, developing and maintaining a $300 million budget, developing operational programs, and keeping our citizens safe. In HR I was a manager of K-Mart, McDonalds and Westcom, making my stores the best place for customer service within the city. In electronics I was known as the fixer. 

District 2: Chugiak-Eagle River

John Laurence Brassell

I am not a career politician like others who are running for Assembly; this election is about the past and the future. Compromises made by career politicians have led us into an uncomfortable budget crisis, while passing laws that are soft on crime. My experience and education consist of over 25 years in business management, health care and executive leadership supported by a master's degree in accounting and masters degree in business.  I will provide much needed fiscally responsible leadership and a healthy dose of common sense on the Assembly.

Fred Dyson

Sen. Fred Dyson is a candidate for the assembly in the April 2017 election. (Rich Mauer / ADN archive)

Alaska 1964, Eagle River since mid 1970s.  Married to Jane, three children, seven grandchildren, many foster children.

Education: Mechanical Engineer, University of Washington 1957-1962 – post graduate courses; project management, budgeting, micro economics, supervision, Arctic engineering, 100-ton Coast Guard license for 12 years. 

Employment history: Worked as pile buck, powerline construction, teamster truck driver, equipment operator. Thirteen years working for the oil industry in the Arctic. Wastewater engineering, waste heat recover analysis, commercial fishing, vessel operator for six marine science projects. Technical writer of O&M manuals, science papers, patent applications.

Eagle River CC Road Board, Boy Scout Council, Alaska Family Council, NRA life member, Mayor's Prayer Breakfast, Anchorage Assemblyman six years, Alaska Legislature 1996-2014. 

Gretchen Wehmhoff

Gretchen Wehmhoff is a candidate for Assembly in the April 2017 election. (Candidate photo)

I believe in community involvement through volunteerism, civic activity and public service. I've lived in Chugiak-Eagle River for 22 years, staying involved in local issues, community councils and organizations. My experience as a teacher and leader with ASD and serving on boards of several nonprofit groups keeps me in touch with Anchorage.  I am an optimist, a doer and a listener. People working together, sharing ideas and dreams are fantastic citizens. I believe in the people of the Municipality of Anchorage. It has been my home since 1965. It is time I give back to this great city.

Patrick Donnelly

Did not respond to questions.

District 3: West Anchorage

David Nees

David Nees, Anchorage Assembly candidate. Studio portrait on Tuesday, March 24, 2015. (Marc Lester / Alaska Dispatch News)

As a former ASD teacher and coach, leadership and team building are my strengths. We are headed into stormy fiscal times. Anchorage homeowners need to be protected from bad policy decisions. I arrived in 1979 and survived the 1980s economic crash, I draw on my in-laws' 50-plus years in Anchorage. I am motivated to protect senior homeowners while making Anchorage affordable for young families to work and grow. I am opposed to the Assembly's request to eliminate the senior and military property tax exemptions. The Assembly is chasing new revenue without proper regard to those who built our city.

Tim Steele

Tim Steele is a candidate for Assembly in the 2017 April election. (Candidate photo)

Home owner and resident in West Anchorage for 30 years. Raised my family and educated them in Anchorage public schools. Active in my children's schools. Served 10 years on the Anchorage School Board. Just completing my first full term on the Assembly. I have a broad background appropriate and helpful In understanding and dealing with Assembly issues. Vietnam veteran, degrees in business and environmental management, have experience in urban and regional planning, building construction, real estate broker, developer, NOAA Corps Officer (ships officer, land and sea surveyor), spill responder, and as a six-time elected official.

District 4: Midtown

Ron Alleva

Ron Alleva is a candidate for Assembly in the April 2017 election. (Candidate photo)

My education, experience and abilities to analyze a challenge, gather the most accurate information from all sides to make the best decision, not only for the present but the future makes me qualified for Assembly.  It takes more than just voting, but an active involvement with the decision-making process.  From community councils, boards and commissions, special committees, and just meeting and listening to constituents — this all takes time, energy, and commitment to work as a team and build a solid path to making Anchorage a safe, positive and progressive place.

Felix Rivera

Felix Rivera is a candidate for the assembly in the April 2017 election. (ERIK HILL / ADN archive 2014)

As a longtime activist and advocate in Anchorage, I've seen our community come together to demand action. Anchorage and Alaska are in the middle of challenging times, but I also see opportunity for us to grow and evolve as a city — whether that's pursuing innovative solutions to  tackling homelessness or ensuring that all Anchorage residents are valued and given the opportunity to thrive. From infrastructure development to ensuring adequate public safety, there is much work to be done. I'm ready to serve and am eager to work on Anchorage's behalf.

Marcus Sanders

Marcus Sanders is a candidate for Assembly in the April 2017 election. (Candidate photo)

I am qualified because I was born and raised here. I know what it takes to make Anchorage all it can be. I work in the Anchorage School District, I've served as a chaplain for the Anchorage Police Department. I'm an assistant pastor. I'm uniquely qualified to address the real concerns facing all of Anchorage's citizens.

Don Smith

Don Smith is a candidate for the assembly in the April 2017 election. (Candidate photo)

In the Assembly District 4 race, I am the only candidate with governmental elective experience. I was on the Charter Commission and participated in drafting the Charter. I was also elected to the first Assembly of the Municipality of Anchorage. I served as chairman for one year. I believe in limited government and strongly believe that we must keep total municipal spending within the Tax Cap lid. I authored the Anchorage Municipal Tax Cap in the early 80s.  I also served in the Alaska State House and the Anchorage School Board.

District 5: East Anchorage

Don Jones

Don Jones is a candidate for Assembly in the April 2017 election. (Candidate photo)

I'm not a career politician, but I believe deeply in serving my community. I served 27 years in the U.S. armed forces, during which time I was deployed overseas 14 times. I had to find solutions to problems when lives were on the line — it was my job. I will bring that same energy, drive and focus to the Assembly.

Pete Petersen

Pete Peterson is a candidate for the Assembly in the April 2017 election. (Candidate provided photo)

I spent many years owning and operating my own business here in Anchorage. I put my budget on the bulletin board every month so my employees could see it and stick to it. That small business experience has helped me understand how to work well with others in sometimes difficult situations and how to find areas of agreement that allow problem solving to proceed through compromise. I brought this same common-sense approach to the State House and the Assembly where I have successfully fought to fix our roads, improve our schools, and lower energy costs.

District 6: South Anchorage

Albert Fogle

Albert Fogle is a candidate for assembly in the April 2017 election. (Candidate photo)

As an Iraqi War Veteran, a graduate of UAA, the president of the Alaska Association of Health Underwriters, and an Anchorage resident for the past decade, I believe my work ethic, life experiences and moral character will benefit my district and the citizens of Anchorage. I believe in balance, fairness, accountability and holding myself and the Assembly to the highest of standards. With my life experiences and my desire to work hard for Anchorage residents, I believe I am qualified to serve South Anchorage on the Assembly.

Suzanne LaFrance

Suzanne LaFrance is a candidate for Assembly in the April 2017 election.(Candidate photo)

I was raised in Palmer, and I've lived in South Anchorage for 20 years. My children attend neighborhood public schools. Through my education, career in the telecommunications industry, volunteer efforts and my family, I'm connected to the community in ways that allow me to see the issues that need attention. My family gives me the passion to ensure that Anchorage remains a livable city.

Tomorrow: The candidates are asked about the direction Mayor Ethan Berkowitz is taking the city.