Candidate profile: Mike Robbins banking on business to create cleaner, safer, more prosperous Anchorage
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Anchorage mayoral hopeful Mike Robbins says he has a plan for a path forward for the city, with a particular focus on helping businesses boom and improving infrastructure across the municipality.
“I’ve spent my entire life creating payroll, not catching a paycheck,” he said in an interview earlier this month. “And that doesn’t make me better or worse than anyone else; it just makes me different. It gives me a different perspective and a different approach to how I’ll run this city.
“I understand budgets, I understand bottom lines, I understand efficiencies,” he added. “I built several companies from the ground up, and I think that makes me the best-qualified candidate to help move the city forward as we move into the future.”
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Robbins, a long-time local business owner who grew up in Spenard and started a family with his wife in Anchorage, said his vision for Anchorage is a city that “has moved itself into the future.”
“We have challenges with crime, challenges with homelessness, challenges with regulation from municipal government,” he said, “but we need to start looking toward the future.”
Regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the local economy, Robbins said people need to understand that opening the city for business is an imperative step, and doesn’t mean anyone is ignoring the pandemic.
“Opening our city for business and sending our kids back to school doesn’t mean we don’t think this pandemic is real,” he said. “That’s not what it means [...] As mayor, one of the things I think my responsibility is, is I need to take care of people, right? And so, as a citizen of Anchorage, I’d like people to know that if they get sick, we can take care of them. It’s the one thing that no one has communicated to people.
“It’s always about not dying,” he said. “Instead, let’s live our lives. Let’s open our city up. Let’s figure out how to live with this thing if that’s what we need to do. We put a man on the moon; we built the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. We can certainly learn how to live with this. This is not a life-stopping event.”
Along with making Anchorage open for business in general, and seeking to boost small business owners’ access and capabilities, Robbins – who spoke during his interview in front of a business that he said had suffered crime, costly repairs, and extensive municipal payments – maintained he supports a Knik bridge, a north-south bypass, and other developments to attract industry and investors for such projects. Initial funding for these projects could come from a variety of sources, including partnerships, federal and state funding, and long-term revenue bonds, he said.
“But we have to beat our dependency on Juneau,” he said. “We can’t always have our hand out, always look to the oil industry to fund our government. We have to attract that ourselves and become more self-dependent.”
Robbins also believes the city needs more balance in its municipal government, something he wants changed as soon as possible.
“We have a municipality that, a municipal government that – first of all, a mayor who doesn’t really represent the people,” he said. “She’s only been elected by less than 5,000 people. And we also have an Assembly that I think doesn’t really represent the mainstream of Anchorage. Somehow, we got to this point where we’re out of balance.”
The Assembly has created a divide, he said, between the actions its members have taken and how they have responded to the public at times. He also cited the Assembly shutting down meetings to the public as being problematic, though some of the limitations were implemented because of emergency orders.
“They’ve made some real blunders when it comes to how to handle a crisis,” he said, “and how to handle people who are unhappy. I think that one of the things that I’ve done for the last 30 years is, I’ve worked with people of all persuasions. That’s how I earned my living. And I have a history of being able to work with people who not only may not agree with me politically, but also may not see a reason to work with me initially.
“And then after we spend some time together,” he continued, “they understand that we have common goals. And if we can come together and work towards those goals – we don’t have to agree on everything, it’s okay – but we all have a common goal, and that’s to make Anchorage a cleaner, safer, more prosperous city.”
It doesn’t matter whether a voter identifies as a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or any other party member, Robbins said. However, to “make sure we’re representing everybody,” he said, he plans to back and work more with conservative candidates, particularly for the Anchorage Assembly and school board.
“Government works best when we have checks and balances,” he said. “We haven’t had that for the past six years. We had a mayor that was fairly far to the left, and an Assembly that’s fairly far to the left. So the right is underrepresented, and so is the middle.”
No matter their party, most Anchorage residents all want the same things, Robbins said – referring to what he sees as a “cleaner, safer, more prosperous Anchorage” – and that we need to work together to get there.
“We have to make a choice,” Robbins said. “We either want to grow or stay the same. I think we need to pick our sights up a little bit, stop looking at our shoes and start looking toward the future.”
The Robbins campaign has raised more than $211,000 dollars, according to its year start report, with another 35,000 added in its 30-day report. Of his year start expenditures, Robbins footed the bill for about $30,000 of that, according to campaign disclosure forms.
Several former mayors and state legislators are among Robbins’ endorsers, but most who are listed are local business owners.
Learn more about Robbins and his campaign by visiting his official website.
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