Anchorage voters opt for bonds, more liberal Assembly

Christopher Constant celebrates Tuesday, April 4, 2017, with a victory lap at Election Central in Anchorage’s Denai’ina Center. (Photo by Zachariah Hughes/Alaska Public Media)
Christopher Constant celebrates Tuesday, April 4, 2017, with a victory lap at Election Central in Anchorage’s Denai’ina Center. (Photo by Zachariah Hughes/Alaska Public Media)

In Anchorage’s municipal elections Tuesday, liberals gained an edge in the Assembly, and residents supported all but one bond measure put forward passed.

Voters also opted to shake up the taxi industry.

There were few surprises in the six Assembly races, with incumbents Tim Steele and Pete Petersen holding seats in west and east Anchorage (respectively), and former lawmaker Fred Dyson winning an open seat in the Eagle River/Chugiak district.

Progressive candidates won by large margins in the downtown and midtown races.

In somewhat of an upset, a liberal-leaning political newcomer, Suzanne LaFrance, narrowly won the south Anchorage seat that’s traditionally been held by conservative representatives.

LaFrance was slightly surprised by the results, but thought the positive tone in her campaign helped her efforts.

“We had a lot of folks who definitely hit the ground, door-to-door and lit dropping, getting the word out on social media and word of mouth,” she said during a brief interview. “If you look at the folks who contributed financially to the campaign, it’s a very broad-based group.”

The results nudge the Assembly slightly more to the left of where it currently sits, and likely mean a continued general alignment with the mayor’s administration.

The Assembly also will see its first two openly gay members, Felix Rivera in the midtown district, and Christopher Constant downtown, who believes Anchorage has changed a lot in the last few years.

“We’ve seen a sea-change in the last four years in this town, and in fact across the country,” Constant said.

Voters also approved the majority of the bond proposals on the ballot, including $58.5 million for school improvements, infrastructure, public safety, and separate measures on parks and trail access.

One bond that failed, however, Proposition 2, had to do with attaching 14 staff positions to the operations of two new ambulances, a measure that would have cost $23 million over 10 years.

“That’s extreme, and I think that was a mistake by the administration to put that out there like that,” said Former Mayor Dan Sullivan, who was part of an effort to defeat the measure.

“If you think that these ambulances are something that’s that vital they could have rolled it into the regular budget,” Sullivan said.

In a proposition about the future of the taxi industry, voters rejected a move to keep the system the way it is presently, and opted to move forward with a measure to open the permitting process.

The move will put more cabs on the road in the next few years.

In the two school board races, Dave Donley won seat C. And as of late Tuesday night, Andy Holleman was less than a hundred votes ahead of Kay Schuster, with two precincts still outstanding.

Turnout across town was slightly lower than usual in a municipal election, at just 19.5 percent of eligible voters.

Alaska Public Media

Alaska Public Media is our partner station in Anchorage. KTOO collaborates with partners across the state to cover important news and to share stories with our audiences.

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