Anchorage Muni Voter Guide
The editors of The Mudflats don’t always agree, but this time we’re unanimous. What we agree upon most of all is that everyone must get out to vote tomorrow, Tuesday, April 1. Local elections are the most important, and least well attended. This one is particularly critical, so no excuses.
Here’s your down and dirty voter guide.
Anchorage Assembly Races
Adam Trombley vs. Pete Petersen vs. Mao Tosi
Trombley has rallied the troops at the Anchorage Tea Party “Day of Resistance,” spent most of his time trying to distance himself from an increasingly unpopular Mayor who hand-selected him for citizen boards that paved the way for his election, and has now been endorsed by the uber-right wing Christian anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-marriage equality Alaska Family Council and its head Jim Minnery. He is far more conservative than the community he represents.
Mao Tosi is popular, charming, and has proven his interest and ability to mentor kids and improve his community. He’s also an administrative and financial disaster. Dozens of APOC complaints/violations in his first weeks running, and a serious breach of tax handling (like not even filing for years) that the IRS is investigating, and telling untruths when the situation came to light make him someone who is not ready, and may not ever be ready, to handle a job whose primary responsibility has to do with managing the finances of a whole city.
Pete Petersen is a former Democratic legislator who lost the last time in a close race after Republican redistricting drew the lines to include more conservative areas in the House district. He’s proven he can handle the job, and handle it well. He represents his constituents well, and would be a welcome, capable addition to the Assembly. He’s a good guy, and not an ideologue. We give him three thumbs up.
Tim Steele vs. Phil Isley
Tim Steele is a long-time resident, new to the Anchorage Assembly. He was elected and re-elected to the Anchorage School Board back in the 90s. He’s focused on his neighborhood while maintaining a wider view of the Anchorage community. One of his strongest attributes is his unfailing support for public education, and labor. He deserves another term, and a victory in his race against perpetual candidate Phil Isley.
Elvi Gray-Jackson vs. Elvi Gray-Jackson
It was a tough call, but we’re unanimously behind the fabulous and inimitable Elvi Gray-Jackson. She’s whip smart, hard-working, can crunch numbers til they scream for mercy, and is unstoppably diligent. She listens to constituents, calls out bad behavior in her fellow Assembly members, and is one of our very favorites. Despite having no opponent in this race, she’s been working hard to remind her constituents that she’s still in their corner every day, and doesn’t take her position for granted.
Bill Evans vs. Bruce Dougherty vs. Pete Nolan
South Anchorage has been suffering under the “representation” of an ineffectual, pompous, mayoral rubber stamp for too many years. But Chris Birch is now going to gallop off into the sunset to continue playing golf in Palm Beach, or wherever he goes when he’s not at the Assembly meeting.
Bruce Dougherty is basically Birch’s opposite, and we really like that (especially the two of us who live in South Anchorage). He is affable, caring, and thoughtful. He’s a solution seeker who actually has ideas that extend beyond “WWMDD.” (What would “Mayor Dan” do?) We’d be proud to hand the seat over to someone whose idea of governing is listening to constituents.
Pete Nolan and Bill Evans are both on the conservative end of the spectrum. If you HAVE to choose one of them, go with Nolan who was the conservative choice of the mayor, but got thrown under the bus for the guy that hates gays more. Bill Evans, like Adam Trombley got the (not easy to earn) endorsement of the hard line Christian conservative Jim Minnery and the Alaska Family Council. That’s not what this district is about. Not only that, he’s earned the endorsement of the very mayor who is seeking to replace one rubber stamp with another. Don’t let it happen. Put Evans on the bottom of the list for this three-way race, and vote for Bruce Dougherty.
Patrick Flynn vs. Mark Martinson
We’re going with Patrick Flynn. He’s no Alan Tesche, but no one is Alan Tesche. Flynn has done a reasonable job although is annoyingly centrist as the only representative of the most progressive area of the city. He has an occasional moment of quotable brilliance, and deserves to be re-elected to the seat. His opponent has been conspicuously absent at candidate forums.
Bill Starr vs. Sharon Gibbons
Sharon Gibbons is a long time worker in justice system. And she’s not Bill Starr.
Starr has proven who he is by constantly wanting to slash the school budget. Starr is a self-proclaimed fiscal expert, who has distinguished himself in that regard by continually seeking to slash the school budget. While trying to distance himself from an increasingly unpopular mayor, Starr was on the wrong side of AO37 which sought to slash the ability of labor unions to collectively bargain. He was also wrong on Prop 5, which would have made it wrong to discriminate against the LGBT community in matters of employment, education, housing, and the use of public facilities.
Gibbons is pro-public education. And when the final sign off on the school budget rests with the Assembly, this is critical. She’s not going to be throwing the budget back to school board and demanding more cuts.
School Board Positions
These races should be enough to get you to the polls even if you’d thought of staying home.
School Board Seat C – Patrick Higgins vs. Liz Ross vs. Dean Williams
School Board Seat D – Kameron Perez-Verdia vs. Don Smith
Both candidates are the only ones in their races who do NOT support rewriting the state’s constitution to use public money to fund religious and private schools.
And then there’s the matter of Don Smith saying repeatedly that the “problem” with the Anchorage School Districts is all those brown children messing everything up for the rest of us. For more, see our previous article and School Board endorsements, and the endorsement of Perez-Verdia by the Anchorage Daily News.
Ballot Propositions – Yes to 1-7
Say “Yes” to Public Safety & Quality of Life
Before the Tea Party pulled the GOP into extreme territory in recent years, it wasn’t that controversial even among Republicans to consider basic infrastructure and public safety as well within the purview of what government should do.
One certainly cannot lay claim to being “pro-business” by voting for crumbling schools and a Third World infrastructure.
Resources deployed at the local level are also those felt most directly by residents, and from which we get the most bang for our buck. We can make a plausible argument about a funding difference for a federal cabinet agency not being something many local residents feel 3,000 miles away. But the first responders who serve our community, the roads and bridges on which we drive, and the schools our children attend, and the parks and trails that help make Anchorage a great place to live aren’t distant abstractions. They’re very real, practical parts of our daily lives.
Each of tomorrow’s local propositions on the Anchorage ballot—numbered 1 through 7—deserves our support, and a yes vote.
Educational Capital Improvements, Planning and Design Projects and Districtwide Building Life Extension Project Bonds
We think Airport Heights Elementary School needs some improvements (including electrical and mechanical systems) after 50 years!
Areawide Safety and Public Transportation Capital Improvement Bonds
New ambulances, improved bus stops, school zone safety improvements, and bridge and dam rehabilitation, with $2,292,000 in federal grants for public transit projects to match the local Anchorage contribution of $573,000? Yes, please!
Areawide Facilities Capital Improvement Project Bonds
Expanding Chester Creek Sports Complex parking lot and relocate Mulcahy Stadium, City Hall safety improvements, Loussac Library renovation, improvements to Anchorage Golf Course, and related capital improvements.
Anchorage Parks and Recreation Service Area Capital Improvement Bonds
Improvements for parks and trails, including Valley of the Moon Park, including an enclosed dog park area and parking lot expansion, repair and resurface greenbelt trails and safety upgrades, resurfacing the bike trail system, replacement of various park upgrades, make safety upgrades at recreation centers including Kincaid Park facilities.
Anchorage Roads and Drainage Service Area Road and Storm Drainage Bonds
Road and storm drainage capital acquisition, construction, renovation, upgrades and related capital improvements.
Anchorage Fire Service Area Fire Protection Bonds
A replacement ladder truck and a replacement water tender.
Anchorage Metropolitan Police Service Area Facilities Bonds
For the purpose of providing for the upgrade of HVAC system (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) controls and making other safety and code upgrades to the Anchorage Police Department headquarters in the Anchorage Metropolitan Police Service.
Proposition 8 – YES
Amendment to the Anchorage Municipal Charter to Remove and Replace Gender-Specific Terms with Gender-Neutral Terms. This is a change to the Charter that should be a no-brainer. We’re all in support of the 20th and 21st century, so let’s get the Charter in line, please.
The changes will include:
1. “assemblyman” shall be changed to “assembly member”;
2. “assemblymen” shall be changed to “assembly members”;
5. “he/she” shall be changed to “the person” or “the candidate” or other noun as appropriate and indicated by the context; 6. “his” shall be changed to “the person’s” or “the candidate’s” or other noun as appropriate and indicated by the context.
Proposition 9 – NO
This might be the most controversial proposition on the ballot. Back in the day, the Anchorage Municipality decided to outsource writing parking tickets to a private company. They were a bit “overzealous” to put it mildly. In response, two sisters who became known as “the parking fairies” dressed in pink tutus, and went around downtown Anchorage plugging meters for those who were in danger of getting a ticket. Soon, the parking fairies were outlawed and the public outcry at the privatizing of tickets, and the ousting of the parking fairies resulted in a rule that only commissioned police officers could write tickets.
Now, we have a new problem. We don’t have enough officers anymore, so we either have to take officers away from other duties to write tickets, or let the revenue stream of violation money dry up. Many want to go for the easy money now and open the door again to privatizing services, thinking this time it’ll be different. We say if we’re short on officers and it’s hurting the city, then fix the problem and get more officers. Don’t go for the short-sighted fix when it’s failed in the past.
To see a sample ballot for your district, click HERE.