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We Build Alaska

Finding common ground with our mayor

The Assembly didn’t run for mayor.

Effective local government is all about finding common ground to prosper and doing our best to solve problems. The idea that our local government right now is the Assembly versus the mayor isn’t true. As one of those 12 Assembly members for the past five years, this idea that anyone holding the office of mayor would get a rubber stamp or vice versa is simply wrong. I have served with three mayors. While I would have been considered more politically aligned with the first two, I had plenty of hard questions and disagreements with all of them. It is my job to ask questions and make up my own mind about how to approach an issue or spend money, as it is the job of my 11 independent colleagues on the Assembly.

While it may be convenient to try to deflect responsibility for problems, the core job of a leader is to work an issue to an answer that most can live with. It is not to deflect responsibility or take a “my way or the highway” stance. The mayor’s re-election campaign should have been about his record versus his opponent’s. Instead, he chose to make an onslaught of claims about what the Assembly has not let him do. The Assembly is a separate and co-equal branch of government in the Municipality. The 12 people who make up its membership are just that, 12 individuals who are elected and answerable to their constituents individually. And to pass legislation or appropriate funds, in most instances the Assembly needs to have seven members vote yes.

Further, if you dig deeper beyond the political attacks, you’ll see the Assembly, and me personally, working collaboratively with the mayor. The largest part of the city’s business is done through a consent agenda where each meeting a hundred plus items are passed on a single unanimous vote with little public discussion. Additionally, even on most of the major issues facing our city – housing development, public safety, and infrastructure – you will see the two branches of government working together.

This mayor touts a handful of accomplishments during his time in office. Those accomplishments aren’t possible without the agreement of the Assembly. In fact, I have helped this mayor find success on projects he would otherwise have failed to achieve, such as the Port of Alaska Modernization Program, the Holtan Hills housing development, and converting hotels and housing the homeless. All of these I personally co-sponsored or worked collaboratively with the mayor’s office to make happen. Why? Because they are important and matter to our city. These issues are not about political wins. They are about quality of life and solving Anchorage’s most pressing problems. No one person, branch of government or organization can do it alone. It takes collaboration and an honest exchange of ideas.

Yes, there have been and always will be disagreements between the branches of government. And while the public may tire of those, that is the heart of public policy making and good governance. Hard questions, accountability, and different ideas often lead to better solutions. This mayor’s race wasn’t about the current mayor versus the Assembly. It was about two candidates, one who used to be an Assembly member among 12. Regardless of who is elected, there will be disagreements between the branches of government, especially on the hardest issues to solve. A good leader owns the responsibility to work cooperatively to find solutions.

Meg Zaletel is an Assembly member representing Midtown since 2019. She is also Executive Director of the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness and does not participate as an Assembly member on issues related to homelessness. 

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22 days ago


Reggie Taylor
22 days ago

“The Assembly didn’t run for mayor.”
Yes, you did. And now that you’re in complete power, we’ll watch as you go completely corrupt.

21 days ago

Seemed like you were plenty willing to rubber stamp for Berkowitz. What was the public process around selecting which buildings to purchase for homeless services? Oh, right, that was a 100% non-public site selection presented for an up-down vote, no alternatives tolerated or considered. Something you’d NEVER accept from a Republican aligned mayor; and yet you uncritically helped the Berkowitz admin turn the discussion into “buy these buildings or fight against solutions, those are the only options” (to the point Constant started making holocaust parallels at the kind old rabbi who dared voice concern with the Mayor’s ordained approach) All… Read more »

Los Anchorage is Seattle
21 days ago

What will not change:

1. Homelessness
2. Taxes
3. Poor city services
4. People at the MOA who actually pick up the phone or return calls
5. Good snow removal
6. Clean parks
7. The Assembly’s leftist laws
8. The Assembly skirting the tax cap
9. Lack of law enforcement
10. Kooks who vote for this crap.

14 days ago

Taxes will definitely change.

Marlin Savage
20 days ago

Further, if you dig deeper beyond the political attacks, you’ll see the Assembly, and me personally, working collaboratively with the mayor.”

As a resident of Anchorage, I saw the assembly’s “relationship” antagonistic, and uncooperative towards the mayor and the city’s well-being. An overwhelming number of the members of the assembly did everything they could to impede the mayor’s effectiveness.

One truthful statement in the entire rant “Effective local government is all about finding common ground to prosper and doing our best to solve problems”, followed by obvious untruths.

Most politicians base their careers on falsehoods, so nothing surprises me.

14 days ago

$300k/year to lead the Anchorage Coalition to end homelessness? Nice work, ya scumbag.