After results get certified, race for Anchorage mayor will officially begin with top candidates set for runoff

Published: Apr. 20, 2021 at 12:28 PM AKDT|Updated: Apr. 20, 2021 at 4:06 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Forrest Dunbar and Dave Bronson will soon be heading into a runoff election on May 11.

The Anchorage Assembly is holding a special meeting Tuesday evening to certify the results of the municipal election, where Bronson earned roughly 34% of the vote and Dunbar earned around 32% among the top candidates in the race.

Most people expected the run to be the next mayor of Anchorage to end this way when more than a dozen people signed up to run. In fact, election officials had been planning for a runoff.

“All of our preparations involve the anticipation for a run off,” said Erika McConnell, deputy municipal clerk, back in March.

Runoffs seem to have become somewhat of a staple of Anchorage mayoral elections, but this is the first runoff with mail in ballots as the primary source. The two candidates also stand in stark contrast although the race is billed as nonpartisan.

“We are voting a coalition of the reasonable,” Dunbar said. “You know, people that are moderate Republicans, Independents and Democrats. That is what is going to allow us to win.”

Bronson, who has built a following as tensions increased over pandemic restrictions said that his focus, if elected, will be solving the city’s homeless problems and opening businesses.

“We gotta open up the city completely,” Bronson said. “We gotta end all these mandates. And quit frankly government needs to get out of the way.”

For several days now, Bronson has held a lead — but that hasn’t mattered because a winner must win more than 45% of the vote.

Both candidates look at homelessness as a driving force this time around.

“Bronson’s plan for mass incarceration of people experiencing homelessness is unconstitutional, impractical and hugely expensive and that’s the other thing, it would be a huge use of our police resources, of prosecutors, of prison beds” Dunbar said. “I mean it’s just not workable.”

Bronson said his plans are more nuanced and differ depending on which homeless population is being discussed. For chronic homeless issues he says jail time could be part of the solution.

“Does law enforcement have to come into play there? Well yeah, if we’re going to get them off the streets and into therapy, get them to the point they make that decision for themselves,” Bronson said. “That involves doing something against their will and if there is a way other than law enforcement to do that I’m all ears.”

Now is the time when both candidates dig in, attempting to get voters back to the ballot one more time. Endorsements — and voter turnout — matter. Just like the last election, the runoff for mayor will have mail-in voting and limited in-person voting.

Former candidates George Martinez and Bill Falsey both have said they support Dunbar, while Mike Robbins stands behind Bronson. Bill Evans said he does not plan on endorsing either candidate.

In a candidate Q&A with Alaska’s News Source, Dunbar said his focus if elected would be getting the economy back on track after the pandemic.

“My Administration will disperse new COVID relief funding quickly and equitably,” Dunbar wrote. “We will build stronger community coalitions and use existing channels to get information out to small business owners about available grants. In addition, we must prioritize Anchorage’s long-term economic prospects so Anchorage can be a world-class city in which to live, work, play and visit. We will invest in the visitor economy, the “work from anywhere” knowledge-based economy, revitalize our downtown, promote cultural tourism, partner with the university, and do everything we can to bring the jobs of the future to Anchorage.”

Bronson wrote that his focus, if elected, will be opening businesses.

“Open all our businesses by ending the shutdowns,” he wrote. “Using all available resources to deal firmly and quickly with the drug-fueled crime and vagrancy epidemic our city is facing. Making it easier and far less expensive to build the homes that we need. I will get our city back on track and to prosperity.”

The new mayor will be sworn in in July.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with new quotes and more information.

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