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Austin Quinn-Davidson weighs in on her path to becoming acting mayor and the road ahead

Published: Oct. 19, 2020 at 6:31 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Anchorage Assembly Chair Austin Quinn-Davidson is set to become the Municipality’s acting mayor following Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s resignation.

Quinn-Davidson is a relative newcomer to Anchorage’s political scene, joining the Assembly in 2018, but she’s lived in Alaska since 2011, working as an attorney. Before that, she grew up in a California logging town with a feeling of community she said was very similar to the one that drew her to Alaska.

“It’s an authentic collaborative feeling, and I think that this is the time, more than ever, during this pandemic, that we need to remember that,” she said.

She got her start practicing law around public lands and real estate, as well as a stint as a criminal law clerk in federal court.

“I then moved on to working for a nonprofit, a local nonprofit called Great Land Trust, leading projects on parks and public access.”

She said she helped to create many of the public spaces around Anchorage and the state, and in her free time, she enjoys exploring many of those areas.

“When it’s summertime, my wife and I love to fish, and we love to hike and get outside,” she said.

In 2018, she won a special election for one of West Anchorage’s assembly seats.

Now, she believes many of the qualities that helped her in that role will be important when she becomes acting mayor.

“I think what people are looking for is someone who’s calm, makes smart decisions, who cares about people, and who’s honest,” she said.

Quinn-Davidson is slated to be not only Anchorage’s first female mayor but also the muni’s first openly gay one. She acknowledged the importance of that accomplishment by looking to the people it matters most to.

“I received a text from my sister, who watched the meeting last night with a young girl, she’s about six, and she sent me a picture with the young girl looking at the screen saying ‘she looks like me,’ and I think that matters,” she said. “It matters for all kinds of folks.”

But at the same time, she added the ongoing pandemic and the damage it’s doing to public health and the economy is her top focus.

“To me, this is less about whether I’m a woman or whether I have a wife or a husband and more about solving the problems in Anchorage,” she said.

For now, she said the first steps are getting her bearings as the mayor, and meeting the people she’ll be working with.

“I’m setting up a bunch of meetings for this week with department heads, and really getting into the swing of things before Mayor Berkowitz leaves,” she said.

The other big step, and the one she places a lot of emphasis on, is meeting and hearing from the people she’ll be serving as mayor.

“It is difficult, but I think being open to listening to all of that, and being in all the places, where you can actually hear from people, even if they don’t share your view is really important,” she said.

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