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Jan. 29—A group of nine candidates seeking to unseat incumbent Mayor Dave Bronson has filed to run against him in this year's municipal election.
Registration for candidacy in the April 2 Anchorage regular election closed Friday at 5 p.m.
Because there are so many candidates for mayor, there's a strong possibility Anchorage will see the top two vote-getters heading into a runoff race. If no candidate reaches the 45%-of-the-vote threshold required to win the mayoral office outright, a runoff election is scheduled to take place on May 14.
Bronson, a conservative, is facing three serious challengers: Suzanne LaFrance, former chair of the Anchorage Assembly; Chris Tuck, a longtime Democratic former state lawmaker; and Bill Popp, a longtime Anchorage economic development official. All have been campaigning for several months, marshalling support, money, volunteers and endorsements from organizations and political figures.
Several other candidates who filed last year so far haven't been running visible campaigns, and a few additional candidates have cropped up this month.
[Anchorage mayor's race off to an early, expensive, competitive start]
Throughout Bronson's term, the mayor and a more moderate-to-progressive Assembly majority have clashed over numerous city policies and controversies. A new mayor could significantly shift the city's political dynamic.
Three Anchorage School Board seats will also be on this year's ballot, and incumbent candidates Pat Higgins, Dora Wilson and Carl Jacobs each face a challenger.
And because District 2 Assembly member Kevin Cross recently announced his impending resignation, voters in Eagle River, Chugiak and JBER will also get a new Assembly representative this year. The municipal clerk's election website on Friday showed that Mark Littlefield is running unopposed.
In order to cast a ballot in this year's election, Anchorage residents must register to vote by March 3, unless already registered. If a voter has moved since the last election, they should update their registration by March 3 to be sure to receive a ballot.
Ballots will be mailed at least 21 days before election day. To be counted, all ballots must be postmarked or returned to a secure drop box or an in-person vote center by 8 p.m. on election day.
Popp spent 16 years as president and CEO of the Anchorage Economic Development Corp., a prominent nonprofit that advocates for business and industry-friendly policies in the city and Southcentral Alaska. Before that, Popp worked in the Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor's office as a special assistant focused on oil and gas. He served two terms on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly. Popp moved to Alaska as a child and grew up in Anchorage.
Tuck is a longtime Democratic former state representative. He was first elected to the Legislature in 2008 and served seven terms, including two terms as House minority leader and two as leader of the House majority. Tuck withdrew from 2022′s race for a House seat after the state's new district boundaries pitted Tuck against a fellow incumbent Democrat. Tuck grew up in Anchorage, and is an electrician who worked as a union organizer and currently owns an electrical contracting company.
Colbry has been a frequent candidate on local ballots. Colbry ran for mayor in 2021, losing with 31 votes. In 2018, he also ran for governor and lost in the Republican primary with 416 votes.
Craig currently works as a project manager with Alaska-based information technology consulting firm Wostmann & Associates. He ran for office in Alaska twice before. In 2016, he ran as an independent in 2016 for U.S. Senate and lost with 2,609 votes to Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski. He also made a bid for the late U.S. Rep Don Young's seat in the 2022 special primary.
Dustin Thomas House Darden
Anchorage voters have seen Darden on city ballots many times. He's a member of the Alaskan Independence Party and a perennial candidate in local and statewide elections. Darden's runs include unsuccessful bids for an Anchorage Assembly seat last year and Anchorage School Board in 2022. He lost races for Anchorage mayor in 2015 and 2017 with a small number of votes.
Danger is a previous local candidate and former pro wrestler. In 2022, he ran as a Republican for an Alaska House seat and lost to independent Rep. Alyse Galvin. Danger also made a few bids for Anchorage Assembly, losing with 663 votes last year to Assembly Chair Christopher Constant. In 2020, Danger lost to former member Austin Quinn-Davidson with 3,524 votes. He also filed for a West Anchorage Assembly seat in 2022 but later withdrew.
Jenny Di Grappa
Di Grappa has spent about 10 years working in the nonprofit sector and is currently the chief of philanthropy and community relations at the Food Bank of Alaska. Di Grappa filed to run for a Midtown Assembly seat last year but later withdrew. Di Grappa is an Honorary Commander on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, serves on the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness Advisory Council and sits on the board for thread, a nonprofit focused on early childhood education and development in Alaska.
LaFrance is a former chair of the Anchorage Assembly. LaFrance, who grew up in Palmer, was elected to the Assembly in 2017 to represent South Anchorage, becoming chair in June 2021. She left the Assembly last year after she opted against running for a third term and announced her candidacy for mayor shortly afterward. LaFrance also ran a nonpartisan campaign for a House seat in the state Legislature in 2020 and lost. She spent 25 years working in business, largely in telecommunications, and her experience includes management, marketing, and budgeting and financial analysis.
Dave Bronson (incumbent)
Bronson won the 2021 Anchorage mayoral election, narrowly beating then-Assembly member and current Democratic state Sen. Forrest Dunbar. Bronson is running for his second term. He was formerly an Air Force pilot, an Air National Guard pilot and officer, and a commercial pilot. Bronson was born in Wisconsin and has lived in Anchorage for more than 32 years.
Isley is an aircraft mechanic who served for 22 years in the Alaska Army National Guard, according to his website. He's lived in Alaska since 1964. Isley has run for public office several times, including an unsuccessful run for Anchorage mayor in 2012. He lost bids for school board seats in 2020 and 2018. In 2014, Isley ran as a nonpartisan candidate against Democratic Rep. Harriet Drummond and lost with 32% of the vote.
District 2: Eagle River, Chugiak, JBER — Seat A
Mark H. Littlefield
Littlefield is a retired longtime municipal employee. He spent 28 years working for the city in several roles in the Street Maintenance and Solid Waste Services departments, including as superintendent of road maintenance for Chugiak, Birchwood and Eagle River. Littlefield came to Alaska in 1982 while serving in the U.S. Air Force and has lived in Eagle River since 1984, according to his website.
Anchorage School Board
After previously serving as an Anchorage School Board member from 2008 to 2017, Higgins was narrowly elected again in 2021 to Seat E, beating out retired teacher Sami Graham. Higgins has lived and worked in Alaska as a human resources professional for more than 40 years.
Schuster, who is running for Seat E on the Anchorage School Board, currently works as a department chair of the Anchorage School District's special education department, and as a self-employed air taxi and fishing guide, according to her candidate filing. Schuster has unsuccessfully run for school board twice — she narrowly lost to current board member Andy Holleman in 2017 after a 2016 defeat.
Frank works for the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development as a local government specialist and is running for Anchorage School Board's Seat F, according to her candidate filing. She is originally from Washington, and has lived in Anchorage for four years.
Wilson was first elected to Seat F of the Anchorage School Board in the 2021 election, beating out three other challengers. Wilson is running for her second term. She has lived in Anchorage for more than 27 years, is a community outreach manager with IBEW Local 1547 and is involved with the Anchorage School Business Partnership as a business partner and board member.
Jacobs was elected to the Anchorage School Board in 2021, beating out incumbent and board president Elisa Vakalis for Seat G. He is running for his second term. Jacobs currently works for Southcentral Foundation as a compliance analyst. Born and raised in the northwest suburbs of Illinois, Jacobs is a foster parent and a former state employee who has lived in Anchorage for more than 15 years.
Pohland is an Anchorage salon owner who is running for Seat G on the Anchorage School Board, according to her candidate filing. Pohland is from Anchorage originally, where she's lived for 41 years. She has three children currently enrolled in the Anchorage School District.