Bill Popp, longtime Anchorage economic development official, files to run for mayor

Sep. 12—Bill Popp filed paperwork with the Alaska elections agency on Tuesday to run for mayor in Anchorage's 2024 city election.

Popp is the fourth major candidate to enter the race, alongside incumbent Mayor Dave Bronson, former Assembly Chair Suzanne LaFrance, and former Democratic state lawmaker and House majority leader Chris Tuck. A fifth candidate, Darin Colbry, has also filed paperwork for the 2024 race.

At a campaign kickoff in downtown Anchorage, Popp pitched his background in economic development and familiarity with local government as core parts of his appeal.

"I've thought about this idea for a while, and it struck me this year that our city needs to recapture its direction and its vision. We just really have lost our way, we are more about dealing with issues and problems in the now, as opposed to thinking about tomorrow," Popp said.

Popp spent 16 years leading the Anchorage Economic Development Corp., a prominent nonprofit that advocates for business and industry-friendly policies in the municipality and Southcentral Alaska. In addition to publishing economic reports, the corporation regularly hosts luncheons for the business community that put Popp in front of many of the state's civic leaders and power players. He officially retired from the position last week.

During his remarks, Popp said he is focused on several major issues confronting the city, including rebuilding the municipal workforce, getting local government "to become boring again," restoring the relationship between the mayor's office and Assembly, attracting more businesses, and retaining a skilled work force, particularly young people.

"It's going to be all hands on deck," he said of proposals for solving homelessness in Anchorage, which includes enlisting help from the private sector.

Though city hall plays a relatively minor role in policy decisions within the Anchorage School District, Popp said that if elected the mayor's office would be "a cheerleader on steroids" for education.

Popp grew up in Anchorage and graduated from East High School after his family moved to Alaska with the Air Force when he was a child.

Before joining AEDC, Popp spent a chunk of his career on the Kenai Peninsula, serving on the borough assembly for six years and working for two borough mayors' administrations.

Anchorage's mayoral elections are technically nonpartisan. Popp is not registered with any major political party, and in the past he has made political contributions to Republican, Democratic and independent candidates ranging from former mayors Dan Sullivan and Ethan Berkowitz to Mark Begich during his 2018 gubernatorial campaign and a few moderate Republican state legislators.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Chris Tuck's leadership position in the state House.