Don’t forget: Anchorage elections are still happening (right now)

Ballot counting equipment at Anchorage’s voting center (Zachariah Hughes/Alaska Public Media)

Even with normal life upended, there’s still an important election going on in Anchorage. The city is selecting a majority of Assembly members, deciding on large bond proposals, and weighing in on three big ballot measures.

Anchorage conducts its local elections through a mail-in ballot system. Tuesday, April 7, is the last day to submit ballots, with initial vote counts released in the evening. Ballots received after Tuesday but postmarked by election day will be subsequently tabulated and added to the results.

RELATED: Hear from Anchorage assembly and school board candidates

This year, six of the Assembly’s 11 seats are on the ballot, representing districts in every part of the city, although the incumbent in the downtown district, Christopher Constant, is running unopposed. Several conservative-leaning candidates are running to unseat moderate and progressive incumbents, which has the potential to alter the body’s current left-of-center composition. Voters are also picking two school board seats.

There are a number of bonds related to public safety, parks and recreation facilities, and infrastructure improvement. But the largest proposition is a $82,833,000 bond for capital improvements to several Anchorage schools, including repairs and seismic improvements related to the 2018 earthquake. According to the municipality, should it pass, that measure would mean about $60 more in property taxes a year for the average homeowner.

At the bottom of the ballot are three propositions with the potential for lasting impacts in the municipality. One would create a highly regulated system for on-site consumption of cannabis inside qualifying retail businesses.

Another adds a 12th seat to the 11-member Assembly. For decades, neighborhoods in the downtown district have only had one representative rather than two, something critics say amounts to a lack of fair representation. The measure aims to expand the district’s geographic boundaries slightly after the next round of state and federal redistricting.

Lastly, public health and safety groups are pushing a five percent city tax on alcoholic beverages that would pay for expanded substance abuse treatment, policing, and domestic violence prevention, among other programming. The tax proposal is a refined version of a similar measure residents voted down last year.

Due to coronavirus concerns, the city clerk’s office closed all but one of its in-person voting stations. The only option for residents wanting to drop off ballots by hand is at City Hall.