Anchorage Assembly welcomes new members at luncheon

Anchorage Assembly welcomes new members at luncheon
Published: May. 2, 2022 at 4:43 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Anchorage Assembly is welcoming its two newest members, and making sure all their questions and concerns are addressed as they begin making decisions on how best to use taxpayer money.

South Anchorage assembly member Randy Sulte and Eagle River-Chugiak assembly member Kevin Cross are newcomers to the assembly after being elected to District 6 and District 2, respectively, in the recent municipal election. On Monday afternoon, both attended a new member welcome luncheon with a few of the current members.

Assembly Chair Suzanne LaFrance said the purpose of the luncheon is for the new members to ask questions, and to make sure the orientation process is going smoothly. LaFrance said it can take a few months, or even a full year before a new member feels fully comfortable with the budget, legislation, and the agenda process.

Sulte and Cross both said they are still a little nervous and are working hard to familiarize themselves with the process, but they are eager to get to work. Both already know some issues they would like to tackle in Anchorage.

“Number one is that bailiwick of homelessness, crime, drug abuse, mental health,” Sulte said. “If I can get one thing moving forward over the next three years and that’s it, I will consider it a 100% success.”

Cross said, for him, it’s about supporting businesses and making sure the assembly is being held accountable when it comes to spending.

“I hear a lot of people give lip service to, ‘hey, we’re good for small business,’ but they don’t realize there are tons of unintended consequences every time we spend your money,” he said. “Every time we take money from the public and go start a big project somewhere, I know the intentions are good. ... But for me it’s not creating more problems for small business and private property owners in order to go solve somebody else’s problem. A lot of times we create problems trying to solve inconveniences.”

The assembly isn’t considered a partisan body, but votes usually fall along predictable lines with a recent majority of more moderate-to-liberal-leaning members. Recently the assembly has had a nine-vote majority when overriding mayoral vetoes.

The dynamic of the body shouldn’t be much different going forward, although Sulte is more conservative than former South Anchorage assembly member John Weddleton.

Cross, who is conservative, is replacing former Eagle River-Chugiak member Crystal Kennedy, who was also more conservative and tended to vote with fellow District 2 representative Jamie Allard.

LaFrance said she is eager to work with both new members, and has already had pleasant conversation with Sulte and Cross during the orientation process.

The next assembly meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 10.

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