Two former Anchorage mayors, Rick Mystrom and Mark Begich, will preside over a televised debate of the current crop of mayoral candidates on the eve of the municipal election next week.
Mystrom and Begich, who faced each other in past city elections, have been confirmed as panelists in the April 6 debate, hosted by KTVA-TV Channel 11. Producers said they were hoping to put a twist on the event by bringing in two recent Anchorage mayors who both served two terms in office and even campaigned against one another.
"Obviously they've run a couple of battles together politically," said Gary Donovan, KTVA general manager and chief operating officer. "(And) they tend to represent different sides of the political spectrum. But they both know what it's like to be the mayor of Anchorage -- both of them spent six years doing that."
Mystrom defeated Begich in 1994 to win his first term as mayor. In 2003, Begich beat out Mystrom in a three-way race with incumbent George Wuerch. Mystrom is a Republican; Begich, also a former U.S. senator, is a Democrat.
The debate's format will allow Mystrom and Begich to ask candidates follow-up questions, said KTVA news director Bert Rudman. Rudman said questions will fall into three general "areas of editorial interest" to the station. Producers are also planning to incorporate viewer questions via social media.
The KTVA debate is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. on April 6, the evening before the election. Donovan said the timing is tied to the NCAA championship basketball game earlier in the evening.
Two other debates have been scheduled for the upcoming week:
• A televised debate hosted by KTUU-TV Channel 2 will air at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.
• A debate hosted by the University of Alaska Anchorage is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at the Alaska Airlines Center, with questions focused on collegiate and community concerns.