A last minute shuffle has changed the makeup of the race for the open Eagle River/Chugiak Assembly seat. The deadline to file to run for Anchorage Assembly or School Board was today at 5 pm.
Assembly member Crystal Kennedy, who occupies the seat but is not running for re-election, had endorsed Tiffany Lund. But Lund, who had filed a letter of intent with the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) on November 30, 2021, did not officially file to run today. Lund is an active member of the Eagle River community who worked as a legislative staffer to Representative Kelly Merrick (R – Eagle River).
Kevin Cross filed a letter of intent with APOC on January 10. Cross, a real estate agent, has the support of Mayor Dave Bronson and Assembly member Jamie Allard. Cross and Lund are both registered Republicans, though Assembly races are technically non-partisan.
Lund’s affiliation with Merrick likely played a role in her deciding not to run. Merrick, who co-chairs the House Finance Committee, has been a target of Republicans since voting to elect Representative Louise Stutes (R – Kodiak) Speaker of the House last year, breaking a month long stalemate. Merrick’s vote resulted in a bipartisan majority in the House.
Lund provided the following statement about her decision not to run for the seat:
Today is the deadline for filing candidate packets for the 2022 Anchorage Assembly election, and it is with mixed feelings that I announce I have decided not to file a candidate package. I will not be continuing my campaign for the Assembly.
I had filed my letter of intent to run several weeks ago, because my long involvement in public activities in the service of others has nurtured a desire to serve our community in a greater capacity. Lengthy discussions with community leaders, along with support from my family and from many friends, encouraged me in this decision. I have appreciated the support I’ve received since announcing my campaign. I especially thank outgoing assemblywoman Crystal Kennedy for her kindness and support.
However, since then, it has become clear that the backing I had hoped for from the municipal level would not be forthcoming, at least not in this election cycle, and that the political headwinds would be stronger that I could reasonably overcome in the few short weeks before the election.
I want to thank all those who reached out to offer me their encouragement and offer a special thanks to those who generously supported me with campaign donations. I will be returning those contributions as soon as possible, with my sincere thanks.
While it appears that this might not be my time to run for elected office, I believe that the right time will reveal itself, and that I will be blessed with the opportunity to take on greater responsibilities for the security and well-being of our wonderful Chugiak-Eagle River Community.
It has been gratifying and extremely humbling to receive the outpouring of support from so many people. I assure everyone that my dedication to our community remains constant, and I will continue to seek out opportunities to serve wherever and whenever possible.
Kennedy told the Landmine she has now endorsed Cross.
Vanessa Stephens and Gretchen Wehmhoff also filed to run for the seat, making it a three-way race. Wehmhoff, a registered Democrat, unsuccessfully ran for the Assembly in 2017. Stephens, a registered Republican, says she has lived in the district for 45 years and supports Eagle River splitting away from Anchorage.
The Eagle River/Chugiak district leans heavily conservative. Cross, who has the support of both Eagle River/Chugiak Assembly member and Mayor Bronson, appears to be the frontrunner for the seat.
Ballots for the April 5 election go out in the mail on March 15. Four other Assembly seats are also up. All four incumbents are running for re-election. Stay tuned for our coverage on all of the Assembly races.