Bronson appoints new head of Anchorage trash services

A red trash truck next to a pink trash can on an overcast day
Solid Waste Services’ driver Garret Fairclough empties a row of pink garbage cans full of food scraps and yard waste into the back of a massive red garbage truck. (Erin McKinstry / Alaska Public Media)

Dan Zipay, a longtime player in Anchorage’s trash-hauling industry and the father of Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson’s former campaign manager, will be the new head of the city’s garbage collection agency.

Solid Waste Services’ previous director, Mark Spafford, resigned last week, Bronson administration officials said in a statement Tuesday. 

Zipay is a part-owner of Denali Disposal, a private trash collection company, which is run by Bernadette Wilson. Wilson is Zipay’s daughter and was also Bronson’s campaign chair. 

According to state records, Zipay co-owns a 25% share in Denali Disposal with Roberta Zipay, but the city’s statement said Zipay hasn’t been involved with the company’s operations or decision-making since 2017. 

In an email, Matt Shuckerow, the mayor’s spokesman, said Zipay “is currently in the process of relinquishing his ownership stake and will no longer serve as a corporate officer for the company.”

Zipay’s photo was removed from Denali Disposal’s website shortly after the city’s announcement about his appointment. 

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Shuckerow said the municipal ethics attorney advised Zipay that his background and business interests don’t preclude him from serving as head of Solid Waste Services. The city will also ask for guidance from its ethics board, said Shuckerow.

Zipay has 40 years of experience in the private waste industry, according to the city’s statement, and was the founder and former chief executive of trash company Alaska Waste. He’ll face a confirmation vote by the Assembly. 

Assemblyman Chris Constant, who heads a committee that oversees Solid Waste Services, said he’s concerned about a potential conflict of interest if the city privatizes waste collection.

Solid Waste Services collects trash bins in about 20% of the city, while private companies pick up the rest. The Anchorage Assembly oversees Solid Waste Services, but privatization of trash collection would ultimately have to be approved by voters, according to former city manager Bill Falsey. Bronson’s administration currently has no plans for privatization, said Shuckerow.

Shuckerow did not give a reason for Spafford’s resignation. Spafford did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

As director of Solid Waste Services, Zipay will oversee Anchorage’s trash collection and recycling services, and be paid $131,310 a year, the same salary as his predecessor.

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Lex Treinen covers culture, homelessness, politics and corrections for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at ltreinen@alaskapublic.org.

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