Voters Shift Assembly A Little To the Right

The Anchorage Assembly will likely become a bit more conservative when yesterday’s municipal election results are certified and its apparent newest member takes office. KSKA’s Len Anderson reports on yesterday’s election races.

All in all, yesterday’s Anchorage municipal election bestowed victories on incumbents. But not entirely. By 10 p.m., Assembly Seat I challenger Adam Trombley sensed victory.

In the yet unofficial election results, the conservative Trombley seems to have defeated the progressive, Mike Gutierrez, who was seeking a second term to represent East Anchorage. Although generally incumbents enjoy an advantage, Trombley will be the fourth new assembly member to represent the district in as many elections.

Trombley, who campaigned on increased government efficiency, property tax restraint and improved public transportation for his district, enjoyed the open backing of Mayor Dan Sullivan. He was the only one of three Sullivan endorsed challengers against progressive incumbents to win.

Both incumbents the mayor backed – Chugiak/Eagle River’s Bill Starr and southside’s Chris Birch – scored easy victories.

Overall, the mayor was pleased.

Sullivan noted that last year another of his endorsed assembly candidates had won.

Pollster and Democratic party advisor, Ivan Moore, saw less impact on the assembly.

Moore based his assessment on what he called the three moderates on the assembly, none of whom had races this year.

As for two progressives targeted by the conservatives, both Harriet Drummond – west side representative – and mid-town incumbent, Elvi Gray-Jackson – won by comfortable margins. While much of their opponents’ campaign seemed to focus on issues of union contracts, property tax levels and municipal expenditures, Drummond said in her door to door campaigning more basic issues were dominant. Gray-Jackson found the similar voter concerns about the “basics” in her districts.

In the two school board races, incumbent Pat Higgins has a 186 vote lead over challenger Bob Griffin in the latter’s second bid in two years to gain a board seat. And former state legislator Gretchen Guess will now occupy John Steiner’s seat. Steiner is ending his third and last permissible term on the board.

The ballot propositions generally fared well yesterday, although not from the school district’s perspective. After a year’s hiatus, the district put three bond packages on this year’s ballot. Two, the final renovation stage for Service High School and the capital maintenance and design bonds lost.

School Board member Jeff Friedman found the capital maintenance defeat especially frustrating. However the school district’s request for 17 million dollars to increase its career and technology facilities did receive solid voter backing. Of the municipality’s bond proposals, only the parks and recreation proposition failed.

As expected, voter turnout was low – about 21 percent. The election results remain unofficial, until absentee ballots are counted and the election is certified by the Anchorage Assembly, likely at its April 19th meeting.

Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage

Download Audio (MP3)