Mayor, school board, ballot propositions to be decided
When Anchorage voters go to the polls April 3, they’ll be tasked with choosing a mayor and three school board members, along with deciding on seven ballot propositions ranging from a $59 million school bond to an ordinance that would grant a new tax exemption to the spouses of deceased military members.
Here’s a look at what voters can expect when they hit the polls:
Incumbent Dan Sullivan is facing five challengers, including Paul Honeman, Bob Lupo, Jacob Seth Kern, Phil Isley and Bruce Lemke. Sullivan has raised the most money in the race, followed by Honeman, a current Assemblyman. Honeman has been the most active challenger to Sullivan, spending money on radio and print ads in advance of the campaign. A former Anchorage Police Officer, Honeman’s ads have touted his public service career and his support for Proposition 5 — an equal rights measure for gay and transgender residents — as what sets him apart from the current mayor. Sullivan, on the other hand, has said he believes his record speaks for itself, and that he thinks he’s done a good job in his one term as mayor.
Lupo and Isley have run much smaller campaigns, appearing at public forums and doing little or no advertising. Lupo, a Vietnam-era veteran, is the lone Chugiak-Eagle River resident in the race, and has said he would like to see more done to prepare the city for disaster preparedness.
Kern and Lemke have been nearly invisible in their campaigns, and neither responded to a request from the Star for information on their candidacies.
There are three open seats on the school board, with two candidates running for each.
Kathleen Plunkett and David Nees are running for Seat E. Plunkett is an accountant from East Anchorage, while Nees is a retired teacher from Campbell Lake.
Tam Agosti-Gisler and Richard Wanda are running for Seat F. Agosti-Gisler, from College Village, is the executive director of the Anchorage School Business Partnership. Wanda lists his occupation as public service.
For Seat G, Natasha Von Imhof, of South Anchorage, is facing incumbent Starr Marsett, of East Anchorage. Von Imhof is a business owner, Marsett is a Realtor.
Two ballot propositions — No. 1 and No. 5 — have garnered the majority of media coverage, but there’s five others that have the potential to impact Anchorage taxpayers.
Prop 1 is a school bond package that proposes borrowing $59 million to make upgrades at a number of district schools. The largest chunk of the money would be used for $9 million in improvements to Service High. Proponents of the bond say it would pay for much-needed repairs at many Anchorage schools, while opponents argue the school district needs to live more within its means.
Prop 2 is a $27 million bond package that would go toward drainage improvements across the municipality.
Prop 3 would allow the muni to borrow $2.7 million for improvements to parks trails and bridges.
Prop 4 is a $1.5 million bond for improvements to the muni’s transportation infrastructure.
In total, the four bond measures would allow the municipality to borrow just over $90 million.
Prop 5 has been perhaps the most hotly-debated proposition on the ballot. If passed, it would add sexual orientation and transgender classifications to the city’s list of groups that cannot be discriminated against under municipal code. Currently, race, color, sex, religion, national origin, marital status, physical disability and mental disability are the only groups protected under city code. Proponents of the proposition have said it would bring Anchorage more in line with cities Outside and is needed to help keep gay, lesbian and transgender individuals from being discriminated against in the workplace and in housing. Opponents have argued that the ordinance is poorly written, would lead to legal challenges, could cause business owners undue harm and force religious people to go against their beliefs.
Prop 6 would allow the municipality to publish its public notices online, rather than in a print newspaper.
Prop 7 would grant a property tax exemption to widows and widowers of persons killed in U.S. military service up to the first $150,000 of assessed value.
To read more about the school board and mayoral candidates, see the Star’s candidate questionnaires in this edition. Mayoral questions are on pages 4 and 23; school board questions are on pages 9-10. You can also visit the municipality’s website at www.muni.org, where you can also find a list of polling places closest to you. Polling places in the Chugiak-Eagle River area include the Peters Creek Christian Center, Chugiak High School, Skyline Family Fellowship, Eagle River Elementary, Eagle River Town Center, Gruening Middle School, Eagle River Lions Club, Homestead Elementary, Joy Lutheran Church and Fire Lake Elementary. Polling places on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson include Ursa Major Elementary and Mt. Spurr Elementary.
Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.