Ahead of the April 5 Anchorage municipal elections, the Anchorage Daily News posed candidates for the Assembly and the Anchorage School Board a series of questions. Read all the answers of the candidates for the Assembly and the school boards here.
Q: Rate Dave Bronson’s performance as mayor. Explain, with concrete examples.
District 2 – Headquarters A – Eagle River/Chugiak
Mayor Bronson is working hard to cut expenses and promote cost consciousness. Unfortunately, there are nine in the Assembly who support bloated government and higher taxes, which was proven when almost all of the mayor’s budget cuts were vetoed on the operating budget of $550 million 2022, despite our impending budgetary problems. Even her nominations that should have had little or no problem (example: Carrie Jamie for Animal Control Board) were politicized and treated with hostility, delayed, questioned and made suspect. Mayor Bronson was elected because the citizens of Anchorage are tired of “business as usual” in government. It seems that not everyone appreciates this message.
I would probably give it a B-. Quarrels and fights, childish disagreements with the Assembly, only draw public attention to all facets of administration. And another big reason that pushed me to run for the Assembly. The mayor’s uninformed shutdown of the fluoride additive to our public water supply seemed like a strange thing to do. And I haven’t heard an explanation yet.
Although the mayor was able to run on what he believed to be true and worthy intentions, his lack of legislative understanding and failure to follow understood policies and collaborative behavior hampered his ability to build trust and lead with transparency and humility.
District 3 – Seat D – West Anchorage
The mayor and his administration had a rocky start, but I am encouraged by recent cooperation with the Assembly to address critical issues in our city, such as homelessness.
Mayor Dave Bronson is trying to work with the Assembly on homelessness issues and there is progress in this area. However, in many cases, the Assembly blocks the mayor’s initiatives and does not want to work with the mayor.
Nial Sherwood Williams
Bronson ran on an open government ticket, but the doors to the mayor’s office are locked. First Amendment rights to ask the government to redress grievances cannot be restricted. He must honor his oath of office, which is to support and defend the constitution of the State of Alaska in the Constitution of the United States of America against all foreign and domestic enemies. The disgraceful mass health care system at Sullivan Arena is a human rights disaster.
District 4 – Headquarters F – Downtown
Mayor Bronson worked on all the issues he deemed important to him when he ran for office. Unfortunately, it has often been blocked by this uncooperative Assembly. I believe that with a more reasonable Assembly, Mayor Bronson would accomplish a great deal for Anchorage.
The Mayor has done some good work such as Port of Alaska, Homelessness and Accessible Housing Units (ADUs). He was also a partisan lightning rod who was slow to stop some very concerning behavior in the chambers (such as initially advocating the use of Holocaust imagery by those who did not want to wear masks). I think if he continues to do the work that needs to be done and stays out of partisan politics that is so divisive, he will be a much more effective leader.
It is very important that the Assembly and the Executive work cooperatively and amicably to ensure that the important work of keeping our city going is accomplished. Unfortunately, it’s the flashy stuff that tends to polarize more and make the news, and that’s what people see, and that’s why they imagine the Executive Branch and the Assembly being openly hostile when they work together. For the most part, this is not the case.
District 5 – Headquarters H – Anchor East
I pledge to work with Mayor Bronson on policies that will benefit East Anchorage and to stand up to him when his actions are harmful. His attempt to set up a 1,000-bed mega-shelter in East Anchorage was bad for the neighborhood and for homeless people. Tried to cut all park improvements in East Anchorage, cut school resource officer program (then took to social media and claimed he wasn’t), cut $1,000,000 of pre-K and tried to eliminate the mental health first responder program, while increasing the number of expensive political appointments. He violated the long-established norms that kept the city running, including attempting to control the Houses of Assembly and standing aside while his deputy fired security and cut the video feed of our meeting. I’m glad we can work together to fix the harbor, a better plan for homelessness and keep Anchorage safe, and I hope that in the coming year he takes a less governance conflict.
I can’t rate someone whose every action was opposed by the board.
I believe the people elected Mayor Bronson as a clear message to the Assembly of their dissatisfaction with the Assembly’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Under Mayor Bronson’s leadership, Public Works has streamlined, simplified and integrated the permitting process for builders and contractors. Since taking office, he has offered solutions to our homelessness crisis. Although his proposal may have posed some problems, the discussion could have brought us closer to a viable solution. The Mayor and the Assembly must be able to find common ground to solve the pressing problems of our city. He also tried to reduce the budget to a reasonable degree and was prevented from doing so by our current Assembly. I would work with the duly elected mayor to help bring about the best possible solutions in the time we have. No solution will be perfect, and I do not seek to endorse the actions of the mayor, but to be open to working with him to progress towards common objectives.
District 6 – Seat J – South Anchorage
I give him a 10 because he has an Assembly that is difficult to work with.
I would give the current administration an 8 or 9 based on Anchorage having a defined and widely supported solution to improve homelessness and its efforts to ask the state to rebuild the Port of Alaska and a specific section of the harbor to keep Alaska safe while the rest of the harbor is rebuilt. I would also cite the recently passed changes to Title 21 proposed by his administration. I was also very happy to see him hold an unruly citizen (who actually supported him) accountable for his behavior at a recent Assembly meeting.
It was a rough start, but I see better coordination now and expect the Mayor and Assembly to do great things in the future. Building a new administration is always a challenge. Mayor Bronson came to the post with no experience in governance. This led to stumbles and challenges in working with the Assembly. Our system of government is designed with checks and balances between the executive branch and the legislative branch, which creates a natural tension that seems to have come as a surprise. Where we have common goals, we work well together. We are aligned on the Port. We share the support of our police. Notably, the mayor’s emphasis on using MOA resources to address homelessness is new and necessary. We work together to follow the path that we have all agreed on.
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Read more Q&A with the Anchorage Assembly candidates:
What is a brief summary of your background?
Why are you running?
What makes you qualified to serve in the Anchorage Assembly?
What is the biggest problem facing Anchorage? How would you approach it?
What is the most important issue facing your district? How would you approach it?
What is your vision of the role of local government in Anchorage?
Rate Dave Bronson’s performance as mayor. Explain, with concrete examples.
Evaluate the performance of the current Assembly. Explain, with concrete examples.
The past two years have been marked by heightened civic discord in Anchorage. How would you improve the quality of civic discourse in the city?
What is your vision for improving and diversifying Anchorage’s economy?
What do you think are the most effective strategies to address homelessness in Anchorage in the future?
What is your rating of Anchorage’s transportation infrastructure? How would you improve it?
Does the city succeed in organizing municipal elections? Would you push for changes? To explain.
Do you recognize the results of the 2020 presidential election? Also, what do you think of what happened on January 6, 2021 at the United States Capitol?
What is one thing that makes you optimistic about the future of Anchorage?
What other important issue would you like to discuss?