Former Anchorage economic head Bill Popp latest name to join Anchorage mayor race

Bill Popp joins candidates running for mayor of Anchorage
Published: Sep. 12, 2023 at 3:12 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - After 16 years as head of the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation, Bill Popp is looking for a new job: mayor of Anchorage.

Popp announced his candidacy in a press conference Monday morning, becoming the latest to join a growing list of names wanting the job that current Mayor Dave Bronson holds.

It’s a decision, Popp said, he’d been considering for quite a while.

“It struck me this year that our city needs to recapture its direction and its vision,” Popp told a crowd of supporters. “We really have just lost our way. We are more about thinking about issues and problems in the now, as opposed to thinking about tomorrow.”

Popp said he would work to fix what he called a “broken relationship” between city government and the Anchorage Assembly, as well as city government and the community. He spoke about efforts to keep youth from moving out of Anchorage but said a main focus will be bringing new investment.

“I’m all about trying to attract new investment, I’ve kind of been working on that for the last 16 years,” he joked.

Popp joins a list of candidates for the April election, including former Anchorage legislator Chris Tuck, who is also concerned about the direction the city has taken.

In his August filing, Tuck said he was inspired to run after seeing opportunities “slip through our fingers” time and again.

“We had $160 million dollars for homelessness over the last three years, and it feels like we’re just right back to where we started,” Tuck said at the time. “And a lot of it is just gridlock, political gridlock. I want to restore faith in municipal government once again, much the same way as I was doing in the legislature.”

Mayoral candidate Suzanne LaFrance said her six years serving on the Anchorage Assembly will allow her to hit the ground running. LaFrance said many of the city’s problems could be solved by hiring competent people to run city government.

“We need to restore competent, ethical leadership to the municipality,” LaFrance said. “So getting competent, skilled people who are committed to our community in those key positions is absolutely critical in all areas, from the health department to being able to plow the roads. That will enable us to ensure that basic core services of government are provided.”

Darin Colbry has run unsuccessfully for the Anchorage Assembly and is now running for mayor. Colbry said his biggest priority if elected was fixing Anchorage’s homeless problem.

Bronson is also seeking a second term in office. Bronson said in July he wants to focus on economic development in Anchorage, particularly on providing more housing.

Candidates have until Jan. 26, 2024, to file for the April 2 municipal election.