Mayor Bronson replaces head of Solid Waste Services with father of former campaign manager

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Aug. 18—Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson has appointed Dan Zipay as the new director of the city's Solid Waste Services, overseeing the city's garbage collection, disposal, landfill, recycling and composting and other services.

Zipay owns Anchorage commercial trucking company Alaska Pro Truck and is the founder and former president and CEO of Alaska Waste, an Anchorage-based waste collection company, which he sold in 2009, according to the mayor's office.

State records also show Zipay and Roberta Zipay as 25% shareholders in a local, private waste service, Denali Disposal. State records show Bernadette Wilson — a former campaign manager for Bronson and Zipay's daughter — holding the other 75% in Denali Disposal.

Zipay became a silent partner in Denali Disposal in 2017 and is not involved in operations or decision-making, according to a statement from the mayor's office emailed Tuesday. Zipay is also listed as a director, secretary and treasurer of the corporation, according to state records.

Zipay is in the process of "relinquishing his ownership stake and will no longer serve as a corporate officer for the company," Matt Shuckerow, interim spokesman for the mayor, said.

Wilson would not discuss her father's appointment and referred the Daily News to the mayor's office.

Bronson in a statement Tuesday said Zipay has more than 40 years of experience in the trucking and waste services industry.

"Dan's frontline experience and wealth of knowledge in the trucking and waste services industry will be invaluable to SWS as they work to update and modernize their operations and improve customer services," Bronson said.

The mayor's office has not yet answered questions about the departure of Solid Waste Services' former director, Mark Spafford, saying only that Zipay was appointed after Spafford resigned last week.

Reached by text message Tuesday, Spafford wouldn't comment on his departure but said that he is "proud of the eight years I spent with the (municipality) and specifically the last five with SWS."

"I had a great team at SWS and I can proudly say I left it better than when I started," Spafford said. "I wish the new administration nothing but the best."

Zipay will be paid a salary of $131,310.40, which is the same salary as the previous director, according to the spokesman.

His appointment must still be confirmed by the Anchorage Assembly, Assembly Vice Chair Chris Constant said.

Constant said he has concerns and "a lot of questions" about Zipay's appointment and potential conflicts of interest, including if the city were to privatize Solid Waste Services.

While the statement from the mayor's office suggests Zipay doesn't have a direct role in Denali Disposal, the Assembly during the confirmation process "will have to get to the bottom of the questions of the propriety of him as an applicant or a nominee," Constant said.

Shuckerow said that Zipay received guidance from the city's ethics attorney who said that his background and current business interests don't prevent him from taking the position. Zipay will also seek further guidance from the city's Board of Ethics, he said.

"Like all MOA employees, Mr. Zipay will follow the Municipal Code of Ethics which includes clear and concise requirements pertaining to conflict of interests and public disclosure," Shuckerow said.

He also said that the mayor's office does not currently have plans to propose privatizing the city's waste services.

The city has a specific collection service area — the boundaries of the former City of Anchorage, according to city code. It is the only operator of collection services within those boundaries, with a few exceptions. People in Anchorage outside of Solid Waste Services' mandatory service area can get trash service from any private company they choose, such as Denali Disposal or Alaska Waste.

The mayor's office and the Assembly recently clashed over one of Bronson's other appointees. Bronson's former appointed health department director, Dave Morgan, resigned before the Assembly could vote whether to confirm him, after facing scrutiny from Assembly members who raised concerns over his qualifications and political comments he made about the pandemic on social media.