With Anchorage’s local election just around the corner, KSKA and Alaska Public media are bringing you a look at those running for mayor. As KSKA’s Zachariah Hughes reports, Andrew Halcro wants to use ideas from the private sector to upgrade Anchorage government.
Halcro has lived in Anchorage for 50 years, and says his family’s prosperity running a rental car business mirrors the city’s own expansion and growth. Much of Halcro’s approach to public policy draws on the same financial pragmatism he says he learned taking over the family business. And at a time when politicians leap on one another over “raiding the permanent fund” or hiking up taxes, Halcro has been frank that it’s not a viable fiscal policy to continue cutting budgets indefinitely.
“So when you talk about funding government you have to start to talk about alternative revenue sources,” Halcro said. “And while a sales tax discussion is premature, I think in the next 3 or 4 years the city will have to start to have that dialogue.”
Halcro spent four years as a Republican legislator in the House from 98 to 2002. More recently he was president of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, and has worked with many of the non-profits and businesses he hopes to better leverage in drafting policy. On issues like land use, for example, Halcro wants to pursue emerging trends like developing housing downtown.
“You have to get engaged win tax incentives and tax deferrals. There are several areas: East Downtwon, Fairview, Mountain View, this is where the millennials want to live, 82,000 between the ages of 18 and 34, that’s where they want to live,” Halcro said. “That’s where seniors want to live. So we need to get aggressive. And the challenge is, it’s not just affordable housing, we have housing gridlock and we really need to address the older stock of housing.”
Halcro also looks to downtown for improving public safety. He insists crime data shows Anchorage is becoming a safer place overall, but he worries about the misconceptions created from high-profile violence.
“The violence downtown is suffering a decline in sales simply because of the perception of downtown—and downtown is very safe. But there is a significant problem, for instance, at bar-break,” Halcro said. “And we are spending an incredible amount of resources downtown due to a number of bad bar owners, because the alcohol industry has basically been writing the rules in this community. And the first thing the next mayor needs to do is really rebuild the trust between city hall, the fire, and the police department.”
Though he’s one of the top fundraisers in the mayor’s race, Halcro contributed a significant amount of his own money to the campaign – $85,000 – more than any other candidate.