Note: As part of our coverage of the 2021 Anchorage mayoral race, the Landmine invited the Dunbar, Bronson, Robbins, Evans, Martinez, and Falsey campaigns to submit one op-ed each of 700 words or less in support of their respective candidates. All submissions received are published as-is and in random order starting on March 1.
The 2021 Anchorage mayor’s race is as important as any past mayor’s election I can recall.
In the days of the titans like George Sullivan, Tom Fink, and Rick Mystrom, candidate credentials really mattered to voters, particularly when the candidate had the appropriate experience to lead the municipality in the right direction.
Most similar to Rick Mystrom’s first election, 27 years later our city finds itself in desperate need of a business leader with enterprising and managerial acumen to get us rebooted, re-opened and thriving again. The pandemic, and seemingly incompetent municipal leadership, put us in dire straits over 2019 and 2020. Our trajectory is ill-fated if we don’t turn course soon.
I’ll give credit where it’s due. Dave Bronson is a veteran and retired pilot. Bill Evans is an attorney, former cop, vet, and Assemblyman. Forrest Dunbar and Bill Falsey are bureaucrats with the city and clever lawyers. None of these fellows are dolts. All of them are competent, whether right or left leaning.
But the candidate that stands out to me with the most precise skill set to get our city back on track today, here and now, is Mike Robbins. That’s probably why Mayor Mystrom, among numerous other business and policy leaders, endorsed Mike.
Unlike the other candidates, Mike Robbins has never run for political office. He’s not a politician. He’s never been a bureaucrat. Being politicians and bureaucrats are what the other candidates can boast of on their resumes.
What Mike Robbins has done is owned and operated multiple businesses, made payrolls and managed hundreds of employees over 30+ years in private sector. He’s likely the most approachable and charismatic. He’s a definite problem-solver.
I’m a retired restaurateur. I’ve managed thousands of employees over a 50-year career in the hospitality industry. I’ve come to learn business experience is the best tool for a local leader.
I also think a mayor should have core qualifications. Having owned and operated a business is integral. Charity and activity in community service, also matter. Tenure in the community is essential. Having children in local schools brings understanding. Let’s not forget smarts. Also add an ability to reasonably work with everyone, no matter their neighborhood, age, gender, ethnicity, faith, income level or political party. Then there are measures like decision-making and getting the job done effectively, that may be the most critical abilities.
Mike Robbins meets the mark for all of these qualifications.
Mike’s business and community service credentials are solid, with his 40+ year deep roots in our city from Spenard to Hillside. He’s exceptionally bright and thoughtful, and a proud parent of children attending Anchorage schools. Mike’s willingness to listen and his ambassadorial-yet-resolute style make him particularly qualified as Anchorage currently displays bitterness and antagonism.
We need a plan, and Mike Robbins has one that envelopes the building trades, industry sectors, neighborhoods, JBER and faith-based organizations, while connecting his passion for economic development and tourism. Mike can work with the Assembly and opposing views. He’s demonstrated over his career a keen managerial sense which can be deployed at the municipal level.
Mike hasn’t forgotten Eagle-River Chugiak, Girdwood, JBER, or the differences and diversity in our neighborhoods. He’s inclusive. He actually listens and cares.
Finally, Mike thinks like a businessman, considering return-on-investment and measurable data points so he’s efficient and responsive. That’s what business leaders do. Whether it’s snow plowing or facility maintenance, public safety or homeless policy development, community relations or partnering with state and federal policymakers to get MOA’s operations fulfilled, like a Mayor Mystrom, Mike Robbins has the most applicable skill sets to move our city forward successfully.
The ballots for this year’s mayoral election will be mailed out Monday, March 15th.
I sincerely hope before you vote you’ll research all of the mayoral candidates and equate who can most effectively pull us out of the budget, business and respect slump we’re suffering today. When you do, I think – like me, you’ll recognize Mike Robbins can move us into prosperity the fastest, and with a cohesive, positive outcome.
Now is the time for Mike Robbins!
Frank Dahl has owned bars, restaurants and lodges throughout Alaska and in the Lower 48 for over five decades including Blues Central at the Chef’s Inn. As the founder of Anchorage CHARR and a former Board Member of Alaska CHARR., he has been active in hospitality and tourism industry policy development since the 1990s. He is a member of Rotary International, a Paul Harris Fellow, and recipient of an Alaska Legislative citation for public service.