Here’s Who Filed for Anchorage Assembly and School Board in Spring 2022 Elections
A slate of candidates seeking to unseat the current members of the Anchorage Assembly have registered to run in the municipal elections this spring.
At the close of registration for candidacy on Friday at 5 p.m., 15 people, including four incumbents, had submitted their candidacy for the five seats to be filled in the Assembly.
Assembly members Kameron Perez-Verdia, who represents West Anchorage, Meg Zaletel, who represents Midtown, Forrest Dunbar, who represents East Anchorage, and John Weddleton, who represents South Anchorage, are all seeking re-election. A sitting member of the Assembly, Crystal Kennedy, will not run again.
A number of new candidates are potential allies of Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson, and if elected, aim to shift the balance of power in the city in favor of the mayor.
Bronson, a self-described Tory, has clashed with the current Assembly majority on city issues several times since taking office last year. Points of contention have included the budget, a temporary order requiring masks in public last year and a growing power struggle between the two branches of government.
[Earlier coverage: With at least 5 Anchorage Assembly seats up for election, Mayor Bronson and allies set sights on a shakeup]
Contacted to comment on her decision not to campaign for another term, Kennedy, who represents Eagle River-Chugiak, said her husband had recently retired and with the tedious nature of working in the Assembly, he was time for her to retire as well.
“I love my community, and it’s really kind of bittersweet to say that I won’t be playing this role,” she said.
Although Assembly seats are technically nonpartisan, if Anchorage voters elect some of the more conservative challengers, it could weaken the power of the Assembly majority and strengthen the mayor’s hand, especially in this regard. regarding the mayor’s vetoes. The Assembly needs eight out of 11 votes to override a veto, and currently only two of its members consistently vote in line with the mayor — Kennedy and Jamie Allard, also of Eagle River.
[Anchorage Assembly overrides Mayor Bronson’s veto of ordinance on meeting rules]
Some Conservative Assembly candidates have worked together as their campaigns attempt to flip Assembly seats. A joint fundraiser was organized last year by three candidates, Kathy Henslee, Stephanie Taylor and Randy Sulte, all Bronson supporters.
Two school board seats are up for election, with two incumbents running: School Board President Margo Bellamy and Member Kelly Lessens. Bellamy faces two challengers. Lessens, who was elected last year to fill the remainder of a resigning member’s term, faces three challengers.
Anchorage residents who wish to vote in the April 5 election must be registered by March 6, unless they are already registered to vote. 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 in-person voting center before Election Day.
District 2 – Headquarters A – Eagle River/Chugiak
Cross is a real estate investor and co-owner of Quantum Laundry Lounge in Anchorage. He is currently Chairman of the Anchorage Platting Board. Cross was born in Anchorage and describes himself as a conservative on his website. He was recently endorsed by Allard and Bronson, according to his Facebook campaign page, and both attended a campaign launch fundraiser for him this month.
Campaign website: crossforak.com
Stephens is a longtime resident of Chugiak and a lifelong resident of Alaska. She previously worked for the Anchorage Police Department in computer forensics and technology and owned Chinook Computer Services. She is a first-time candidate for political office.
Wehmhoff previously served in the Anchorage Assembly from 2018 to 2019, briefly filling a position vacated by the former member and current city manager. Amy Demboski. She previously ran for a District 2 seat and lost in 2017. She was also a Democratic candidate for the Alaska House of Representatives in District 12 in 2014 and 2016. Wehmhoff is a teacher, a member of the Birchwood Community Council and was president. of the Anchorage Public Transportation Advisory Board.
Campaign website: www.teamgretchen.com
District 3 – Seat D – West Anchorage
Perez-Verdia, a current member of the Assembly, was elected to Seat D in 2019 and is seeking a second term. He previously served on the Anchorage School Board from 2013 to 2017. He is president and CEO of the Alaska Humanities Forum, a nonprofit organization.
Campaign website: kameronforassembly.com
Nial Sherwood Williams
Williams ran for a seat on the Anchorage school board last year and lost. He frequently attends and testifies at Assembly and School Board meetings. He was kicked out of the chambers for disruptive behavior and was recently arrested during a meeting of the Assembly.
Danger is a former candidate for the Assembly seat, losing in 2020 to Member Austin Quinn-Davidson with 3,524 votes. He is an operations engineer for Local 302 and has previously said he wanted to bring a conservative, Christian and working-class perspective to the Assembly.
Vazquez was a Republican Representative in the Alaska State House for District 22 from 2015 to 2016. She is an attorney, former administrative law judge, assistant state attorney general, and state attorney. She served twice on the board of the Chugach Electric Association.
Campaign website: lizvazquez.us
District 4 – Headquarters F – Downtown
Zaletel was elected to seat F in 2019 and is seeking a second term. She is a disability attorney who came to Alaska for a job at the Disability Law Center of Alaska. She is currently the Acting Executive Director of the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness. Zaletel rejected a recall petition against her last fall by a wide margin.
Campaign website: megforanchorage.com
Henslee previously ran as a Republican candidate for Alaska House, District 23, and lost in 2020. She is a business owner and realtor with AK Gold Homes. Bronson featured Henslee at his campaign launch last year.
District 5 – Headquarters H – Anchor East
Taylor is a longtime Anchorage resident and has been a stay-at-home mom to her five children for 30 years, according to her website. She volunteered for several political campaigns, including Bronson’s.
Campaign website: stephanieforak.com
Dunbar, the current Assemblyman for Seat H, is seeking a third term. He is a lawyer and an Alaska National Guard officer. Last year, Dunbar ran for mayor and lost to Bronson in the runoff by 1,193 votes. He was also a Democratic candidate for the United States House in 2014.
Campaign website: forrestdunbar.com
Hall is a first-time candidate for elected office. He is an HVAC instructor at Charter College in Anchorage. Hall previously worked as a ship fitter.
District 6 – Seat J – South Anchorage
Colbry ran for mayor in last year’s election and lost with 31 votes. Colbry also ran for governor of Alaska in 2018 and lost in the Republican primary with 416 votes.
Weddleton is the incumbent Assembly Member for the J seat and is seeking a third term. He owns Bosco’s, a comic book and game store in Spenard. He has served on the Abbott Loop Community Council Board and Land Use Committee, Hillside Home and Landowners Organization and is currently a member of the Spenard Chamber of Commerce.
Campaign website: weddletonforassembly.com
Sulte is a first-time candidate for Anchorage Assembly. He is a private pilot and works as the chief operating officer of Kakivik Asset Management and CCI Industrial, according to his website. Sulte says he is running to “restore balance in a deeply polarized Assembly,” according to his website.
Campaign website: sulteforanchorage.com
Murray is a longtime swim coach in Anchorage, including coaching at South High School. He is the head coach of the Northern Lights Swim Club.
Campaign website: www.facebook.com/CliffMurray4ASDSeatA
Loring ran for the school board’s F seat in the 2021 election and lost with 3,345 votes. Loring said he is retired and has a great interest in education and is currently doing research to write a book about the Anchorage School District.
Bellamy is currently chair of the school board. She was elected to the board in 2019 and is seeking a second term. She began working in the Anchorage School District in 1974 and has held several positions including teacher, librarian, vice principal, and principal.
Campaign website: margobellamy.com
Marc Anthony Cox
Cox ran for seat B in the Anchorage School Board last year and lost. Cox graduated from the Anchorage School District and served in the United States Army. He is the CEO of Family Charity of Alaska.
Campaign website: macforanc.com
Lessens was elected to seat B last year for the remainder of a term for a board member who resigned. She is one of the founders of ASD60, a parent organization and advocacy group that started a pilot program in the school district to increase physical activity and time to eat.
Campaign website: kelly4anchoragekids.com
Benjamin R. Baldwin
Baldwin is running for the school board for the first time. He sits on the education committee of the Kenaitze Indian Tribe and is a board member of the National Indian Education Association.
Darden has run for public office several times, including for Anchorage Assembly, but has so far never won a seat. He frequently attends and testifies at Assembly meetings and has been arrested or expelled from chambers for disruptive behavior on several occasions.
Ries is running for office for the first time. She is a former medical evacuation pilot and platoon leader in the Army National Guard. She had previously announced her intention to run for a seat in the South Anchorage Assembly, but has since decided to run for the school board instead.
Campaign website: riesforalaska.com