VIRTUAL FORUM meet anchorage mayoral candidates BY VICTORIA PETERSEN
To help parents get better acquainted with candidates running for Mayor of Anchorage this spring, Growing Alaskan Leaders hosted an online mayoral forum on Sunday, January 10. Four of the six candidates, including George Martinez, Forrest Dunbar, Bill Evans and Bill Falsey, participated. Two candidates — Mike Robbins and Dave Bronson — did not respond to the invites, Laura Norton Cruz, the forum’s host, said at the beginning of the event.
Because of space limitations from publishing in both languages, Sol de Medianoche will publish part 2 of this event in next month’s edition.
The forum was held over Zoom and was recorded and saved on the Growing Alaskan Leaders Facebook page. Growing Alaskan Leaders is a volunteer, informal group of parents and caregivers focused on a “sustainable and equitable Alaska,” host Laura Norton Cruz said at the beginning of the forum. Sunday’s event was the first political forum held by the group, Cruz said.
“When we are looking at COVID numbers, and precarious employment — wondering what to do about childcare or when we’re trying to figure out where our kid’s next meal is going to come from — politics feels really personal and really urgent to us,” Cruz said at the beginning of the forum. “The majority of Alaskan families are struggling, even before COVID hit.
The moderators of the forum included civil rights attorney and mediator, Mitzi Bolaños Anderson, whose family is from Cuba; EJ David, a Filipino immigrant and psychology professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage; Jasmin Smith, a mother to twins, entrepreneur, and resident of Anchorage’s Mountain View neighborhood; and Stacey Lucason, a UAA graduate working primarily in birth, pregnancy and childcare. In alphabetical order, candidates Forrest Dunbar, Bill Evans, Bill Falsey and George Martinez gave a brief introduction of themselves and their platform.
Forrest Dunbar, who has served on the Anchorage Assembly since 2016, said he’s a lifelong Alaskan focused on jobs, quality of life, public education and homelessness. Prior to his time on the assembly, Dunbar said he served as the vice president of the Scenic Foothills Community Council and helped found the Muldoon Farmers Market. Dunbar is a commissioned officer and captain in the Alaska Army National Guard and serves on the Anchorage Parks Foundation. He says he’s running for mayor to make Anchorage “an even better place to live.”
Bill Evans, who moved his family from Cleavland to Anchorage in 1998, is a labor lawyer. Between 2014 and 2017, he served on the Anchorage Assembly, and spent 13 years on the board of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce. Before moving to Alaska, he said he was a former paratrooper in the military and served as a police officer. He said he’s running as an independent. “We’re a great city whose best days are ahead of it,” Evans said.
Bill Falsey — who introduced himself as the “son of Margie who was a special education teacher at Rabbit Creek Elementary School and of David whose job in the air force brought the family to Alaska” — says he’s running because he wants “Anchorage to be a thriving city of opportunity for everyone in the next generation, and generations to come.” For the last three years, he served as the city’s “second-in-command,” overseeing police, fire, health and other departments, he said.
George Martinez, who introduced himself as a father, educator, diplomat and community entrepreneur, was the former special assistant to the Mayor of Anchorage in regard to economic development, youth development, education and diversity, he said. Anchorage is a city in transition, he said. “Now is the time to reset, rebuild and rebound stronger, focusing on public safety, education, and economic development to do that,” he said.
The first questions were part of a lightning round of 12 YES or NO answers, which were answered via using a thumbs up, thumbs down or thumb sideways approach.
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