Former reality TV personality challenges incumbent Rivera for Midtown assembly seat

Former reality TV personality challenges Midtown Assembly incumbent
Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 9:56 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Voters are making their choice for the Anchorage Assembly as ballots have arrived at homes across the city.

Felix Rivera is one of two incumbents in the race, with Rivera defending his District 4, Seat G position on the Assembly.

Democrat Rivera is running for his third assembly term and says that he’s optimistic about being reelected, citing various accomplishments during his six years in the position. Rivera, who chairs the Committee and Housing and Homelessness in Anchorage, narrowly defeated his challenger Christine Hill by less than 200 votes in 2020.

Voters should reelect him, Rivera said, because he has experience on the Assembly and said he can get more done than a newcomer.

“I have helped lead a creation of 300 plus housing units that didn’t exist a year ago, right, that wouldn’t have existed without my leadership,” Rivera said. “I helped to found the plan for emergency shelter and created the taskforce that helped create that plan when the administration completely failed to do. When it comes to snow plowing, I advocated for and worked with my colleagues to get 1.5 million additional dollars in snowplowing. So I know how to get this job done.”

Transportation is among issues sometimes overlooked in Midtown, Rivera said.

“Transportation issues have been really big in Midtown recently,” he said. “We have seen a whole host of vehicle, pedestrian and bicyclist deaths in Midtown. And I really want to see ways that we can work with the state, because a lot of these roads are state DOT roads, work with the municipality and work with our community partners to see what we can do to make our roads in Midtown more pedestrian friendly.”

He is challenged by Travis Szanto, a master carpenter and former reality TV personality. Szanto says Anchorage is going in a negative direction and leaving working families behind.

This is Szanto’s first time running for political office. He identifies as a moderate who leans politically right and says public safety is a priority for him.

“The police force out there, they’re struggling with lack of people and they have been after a long time,” Szanto said. “Trying to find any of the younger generation to come up and actually want to do public service is very hard. It doesn’t pay well. ...No matter what you do, people generally don’t like you. Even if you’re doing the job the best you can do, nobody likes you.”

Szanto says he’d like to see more fiscal transparency and transparency between the Assembly and citizens.

“I don’t think we’ve seen a lot of tradesmen on the Assembly,” he said. “We have a different perspective, I believe, as tradespeople in order to bring, maybe a little more ground-ness to it. A little bit more people’s voice.”

The election is April 4.