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.
There are a lot of folks in this race, and each candidate can make a case for why they should be Mayor. Please allow me the opportunity to explain why I believe I am the best candidate.
While serving on the Anchorage Assembly, I worked hard to earn a reputation for being reasonable and getting things done, even while I was in the minority. I believe that a non-political approach to our city’s problems is essential. Anchorage is at a crossroads: either we decide to dig in and commit ourselves to the hard work of turning our city around or we’ll see the continued deterioration of our community and way of life.
As mayor I would focus on rebuilding Anchorage’s economy and investing in our city’s future. Anchorage must be the most digitally connected city in the nation, and we need to ensure that Anchorage government understands and supports our private sector economy. If we don’t improve our economy, all of our other plans will fail because we will not have the resources to accomplish them.
Turning our city around also requires that we address our homelessness problems. No one will want to invest in a city in which homelessness is unchecked, and no other entity or entities will solve this problem for us. If we can effectively reduce or eliminate homelessness, we will earn a well-deserved reputation as a city that can solve problems. That is the reputation we need.
I want Anchorage to be an extremely unattractive location for criminality, but I want our approach to justice to be smarter. We need to differentiate between people who need immediate assistance and rehabilitation, and those who present a long-term danger to our community.
I want to increase the sense of community service among the police, and I want to encourage Anchorage public schools to innovate. Teachers should be free to bring their skills and enthusiasm to the classroom instead of strictly adhering to test-oriented curricula. Anchorage will only succeed if we have a truly excellent public school system.
I want to be positive, forward focused and non-political while still being true to my fiscally conservative roots. To me fiscal conservatism is not determined by how much or how little you spend, but by how well you spend. Government officials have an obligation to be more careful with “the people’s money” than with their own money.
We are not going to achieve these goals and solve our problems by foisting trite sound bites on the voters of Anchorage. There are no easy solutions to our problems and anyone who simply tells you that they will “cut the fat out of the budget” or magically “get government out of the way” is taking you for a ride.
The two candidates in this race to my right have spent no time working with, or on municipal issues. Governing something as big and complicated as the Anchorage municipality cannot be accomplished with soundbites and platitudes. The mayor needs to hit the ground running on day one, not learn how the municipality and the laws work one lawsuit at a time.
This is a time in Anchorage for serious candidates with experience and a record of accomplishment. This is a time when the voters of Anchorage can ensure we place Anchorage on a path towards success.
I’ve tried to dedicate my life to service, whether serving my country in the 82nd Airborne division, my community as a police officer, or my neighborhood while representing South Anchorage on the Assembly. I spent thirteen years on the Board of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce (twice serving as Chair), and I was appointed to boards and commissions by folks with a wide range of political ideologies, including Frank Murkowski, Mark Begich and Mayor Dan Sullivan.
With 14 people in the race, nobody will win outright on April 6th, and the election will go to a runoff on May 11. There will almost certainly be one front-runner on the left, and one on the right. If you like the direction the city is currently going and want to see more of that, vote for the establishment candidate on the left. If you believe we need a thoughtful, humane, and effective new direction for Anchorage, I would be honored to receive your vote.
Bill evans is a candidate for Anchorage mayor.