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, Dustin Darden is bringing his past as a tradesman and strong religious beliefs to the campaign.
Darden caught the attention of many residents with his hand-painted signs set up at busy intersections around town. Two dots over the ‘u’s resemble a smiley face.
“I’m in this thing to win it, baby,” he said.
Darden is a lifelong Anchorage resident with a background as a carpenter. Now he’s employed with city as a maintenance worker. Darden says he’ll take advice from other municipal employees and department heads for reducing costs.
“It’s gonna be finding ways to save money by the employees, by the department heads, and to reward those things,” Darden said. “It’s not a magic bullet to save money, it’s engaging what exists, and encouraging that kind of development.”
One of Darden’s goals is increasing tourism in Anchorage to ensure economic growth. His plan for city revenues is phasing out property taxes.
“I’ve got an idea that I’m throwing out there for the city, if they’re down with it. If we cut property taxes out entirely and replace it with a 5.5-6% sales tax and just replace those, the rent is gonna go down,” he said. “And as a whole it’s gonna make us less reliant on revenues generated from property taxes, and it would also, I believe, boost the morale as a whole because it will give people a more sense of ownership on their property.”
Darden is a devout Christian, and regularly brings up his strong opposition to abortion at candidate forums and during public testimony before the Assembly. His religious views inform how he plans to address issues like public safety and schooling. Asked what constitutes success in Anchorage’s public schools, Darden replied, “back to the basics, back to the Bible. It’s not complicated. It’s simple. But as far as success goes, there’s no more successful way to live than alive in Jesus Christ.”
This is Darden’s first run at elected office.