Bronson releases mayoral directives after taking office

Directives focus on economy, second amendment, COVID-19 rules and streamlining government
Published: Jul. 1, 2021 at 6:19 PM AKDT|Updated: Jul. 2, 2021 at 9:37 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Mayor Dave Bronson announced a set directives the same day he took office as the new leader of Alaska’s largest city.

After being sworn in as mayor on Thursday morning, Bronson released four mayoral directives which direct city staff and his administration to work toward the policies they outline and, in some cases, create new committees or task forces.

WATCH: Ceremonial swearing in ceremony

Mayor Dave Bronson is hosting a ceremonial swearing in ceremony at a block party downtown at Delaney Park Strip.

Posted by Alaska's News Source on Thursday, July 1, 2021

The first directive seeks to establish Anchorage as a “sanctuary jurisdiction” for Second Amendment rights, and to “preserve and protect” those rights for residents. The directive states that “no public funds or resources shall be used to restrict Second Amendment rights or aid in the unconstitutional restriction of these rights.”

Second Amendment rights are protected in the U.S. and Alaska Constitutions.

“As we see what’s going on nationally, this notion that we need a bunch of new gun control measures in the city,” Bronson said during a Thursday press conference.

He said he’s worried for Anchorage police officers. In the press conference, Bronson said he’s heard from members of Anchorage Police Department that they wouldn’t feel safe if, at some point in the future, they had to go door to door to register or confiscate firearms.

Asked about the notion of police officers having to confiscate legally purchased weapons, Anchorage Assembly member John Weddleton said it’s unlikely that would happen in Anchorage.

“I can’t imagine anyone in APD agreeing to do that, or asking anyone to do that,” he said. “It’s simply unimaginable.”

Last year, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly passed an ordinance of a similar nature making the borough a sanctuary for Second Amendment rights. Similar to Bronson’s directive, that ordinance opposed the passage of any legislation that would “restrict individual rights protected by the Second Amendment.”

However, the borough assembly amended its ordinance before it passed to make it clear that, as a second-class borough, it does not have law enforcement powers and only had the authority to stand as a sanctuary borough within the limits of the U.S. and Alaska Constitutions.

As a home-rule municipality, Anchorage does have law enforcement powers.

Weddleton said the directive is a way for Bronson to establish where where stands on certain issues.

“I expect there will be more actions and statements like that,” he said. “That’s fine.”

Alaska’s News Source has reached out to the Bronson transition team for more details on the practical impacts of the directive on the city.

The second directive focuses on economic recovery for Anchorage, and establishes a new committee called the Anchorage Economic Revitalization And Diversification Advisory Committee. The committee is directed to use the city’s Economic Recovery Transition Team report as a guide for its work and to report to the mayor every four months.

Its members will be selected by Bronson within 30 days. The advisory committee will be chaired by the executive director of the Anchorage Community Development Authority. Bronson recently appointed fellow mayoral candidate and Alaska Republicans House District 26 Chair Mike Robbins to that position.

The directive states the city will “aggressively pursue economic revitalization, expansion and diversification.”

Bronson’s third directive takes aim at streamlining government services and making city operations more efficient. It creates a Blue Ribbon Task Force on Efficiencies and Regulatory Reform, to address areas within the municipality “where improved services and cost savings could be achieved with improved customer service.” That could include the “elimination, consolidation or revision” of city laws, policies, regulations or practices, according to the directive.

That includes the Anchorage School District. According to the directive, the task force will include ASD administration and operations within the scope of its work, “and identify areas where savings and efficiencies may be achieved.” The directive states that could be through consolidation or merging of common functions between the school district and the city.

“There are things like snow removal, maintenance, janitorial service,” Bronson said during the press conference. “We’re just looking for efficiencies at every level of government and the public school system is a level of government.”

Bronson’s last directive announced Thursday focuses on policies relating to COVID-19. The directive states that any remaining mask mandates in buildings that are owned, leased or used by the municipality are rescinded.

The city’s mask mandate was revoked by the Anchorage Assembly in May, around the same time as the removal of the city’s emergency declaration. Several other COVID-19 restrictions on gathering and social distancing were removed by the assembly in April.

“While individuals may make personal choices to wear a mask as a protective health measure, masks will not be required to be worn by anyone entering” a municipal building.

The fourth directive also states that the municipality will not require employees or applicants for city employment to be vaccinated.

Bronson also announced Thursday that he would be seeking a $15 million appropriation from the Anchorage Assembly to build the 400-capacity homeless shelter his administration has proposed. Former Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson’s administration had planned to purchase the former Alaska Club building in Midtown. It would have housed 125 people and cost about $5.4 million.

“We look forward to working with the assembly on that,” Bronson said.

Bronson was sworn in Thursday morning at the Marriott Anchorage Downtown. Following that, he outlined his directives in a separate press conference, before moving on to the Delaney Park Strip in downtown Anchorage for a second, ceremonial swearing in event. Bronson’s remarks at that event lasted about a minute.

People gathered at the park strip shared their opinions on the incoming mayor.

“It was great, it was very positive,” said Pierce Blewitt, a Bronson supporter. “And looking to the future, and the things we can do as a city, and a community, yeah, to improve it.”

“Hopefully he just does a better job than the last people,” said Latoya Harris, who also attended the block party. “(Hopefully he) has a better plan in place for people when it comes to unemployment and helping Alaskans out.”

During the press conference mid-Thursday morning, Bronson said his major areas of focus going forward as mayor are addressing homelessness, cultivating safe streets and the Port of Alaska in Anchorage.

“I’m looking forward to working with the assembly, on how to get from point A to B, because we are going to rebuild this town, in a lot of ways,” he said. “We need development downtown, even as we work in the east downtown, there’s a lot of work to do.”

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