Anchorage Mayor-elect Dave Bronson struck a conciliatory tone at his first news conference on Monday afternoon, three days after his opponent Forrest Dunbar conceded in the race to become the city’s next mayor.
Speaking at the Midtown office of a Republican political consultant, where his transition team is headquartered, Bronson called his campaign a “voice for the people,” and thanked his supporters.
“I will be the mayor for everyone in this city. And I take a different perspective on some of the process to get there than some of my opponents did, but I think we all wanted the same thing,” he said.
Final election results released Friday gave Bronson, the conservative candidate, an edge of about 1,200 votes over Dunbar, a progressive.
Bronson will take over the helm of the city from Acting Mayor Auston Quinn-Davidson on July 1, and the Assembly will certify the election results on Tuesday.
Bronson plans to have two experienced, conservative political players by his side: Craig Campbell and Larry Baker will co-chair his transition team, he announced Monday.
Campbell was a lieutenant governor under former Republican Gov. Sean Parnell and Baker is a real estate developer who also served as chief of staff for former Republican Mayor Dan Sullivan. Both Campbell and Baker served on the Anchorage Assembly in the 1980s. The two attended the news conference on Monday, but didn’t speak publicly.
In his prepared remarks, Bronson laid out his priorities for his administration: economic recovery, public safety and government efficiencies.
“Without a robust economy, Anchorage will never recover,” he said. “This includes a revitalization of downtown.”
Bronson said he’ll immediately enact a hiring freeze when he takes office. Meanwhile, he said, his transition team will be reviewing all city departments and staffing. The team is tasked with looking for places to cut the budget, and preparing its recommendations for Bronson’s first day in office, he said.
Bronson didn’t have examples on Monday of what might be on the chopping block.
“Until we can get access to the Muni computer systems and we see where the inefficiencies — as well as the efficiencies — are, we really can’t answer that question,” he said.
Also, Bronson said, his team will have a recommendation by July 1 about the purchase of the former Alaska Club in Midtown. The current administration entered into a contract to buy the building as a shelter for people experiencing homelessness — but it’s a controversial move, and the deal won’t close until July 9, giving Bronson the final say on whether to move forward with it.
Alaska Public Media’s Tegan Hanlon contributed to this report.