AND THAT’S A PROBLEM: It’s not lost on downtown Anchorage Assembly candidate Chris Cox that his lifelong neighborhood has a murder rate that exceeds that of Chicago.
In fact, you’re nearly twice as likely to be murdered in downtown Anchorage as you are in the Windy City, he said. And that is saying something.
With 26,000 people, Assembly District 1 would have 7 murders a year to be equal to Chicago’s murder rate. But in 2016, it saw 13 murders.
It was a new record that Chris Cox says has to be reversed.
District 1B, the most diverse neighborhood in the city and probably the state, should be up in arms over violent crime, says Cox. It’s such a big issue for him that, at this point in his campaign for the election that takes place April 4, crime has become his focal point. He’s up on step about it.
That, and the rate the city is burning through its cash on things that are frivolous. That also needs to change, he said. Property taxes are high enough. But back to the murder capital of Alaska…
“Overall, Anchorage is roughly twice as bad [for homicides] as the entire country,” Cox said. “We need more police officers on the streets. We need to take better care of them. We especially need genuine support from the community.”
He should know. The son of a career police officer, Cox was raised in East Anchorage with strict law-and-order family values. He graduated from East Anchorage High School, finished college in Texas, and then came back to start making a living.
His first home out of college was a youth hostel in downtown Anchorage, and that showed him the need for affordable housing.
Through time, sweat equity, trial and error, he ended up owning several rooming houses in the downtown core, and 90 percent of his tenants were clearly struggling with their lives — they were addicted, in and out of jail, had mental health or resiliency issues, and were trying to get back on their feet.
Cox gave them tough love and a place to live. But he was not a pushover: “90 percent of them didn’t have the money to move in, so I had to work with them.”
Cox also bought and refurbished hotels, owned a bar or two, an automotive company, and a concert promotion company.
“If it looked like a door in front of me, and I thought I could make a go of it, I’d go through it,” Cox said.
Then he got cancer. He survived, reassessed his priorities, and decided to get involved helping redirect the path that Anchorage is on.
“I got an email from [Assembly member] Patrick Flynn who said, if you think you can do a better job, then go do it. So I said to myself, ‘I will.'”
Cox, who is a registered Republican, is one of several candidates running for District 1B, which encompasses Downtown, Mountain View, Government Hill, Inlet View, South Addition, and Bootleggers Cove. He has lived in Westchester Lagoon, but now lives in Fairview, where he is in the process of buying a home.
His other concerns are education and keeping Anchorage’s municipal budget fiscally conservative.
“If you have to make a choice, I always favor fire and police over everything else,” he said.
A meet-and-greet fundraiser for Cox will be held at Fat Ptarmigan, 441 5th Street, Anchorage, from 4-7 pm today, March 7.
Others who have filed for this downtown seat being vacated by Assembly member Patrick Flynn include:
Christopher Constant, a Democrat who is former president of Fairview Community Council, Constant has worked as an administrator at Akeela Inc., which is a substance-abuse nonprofit, and as a real estate manager.
David Dunsmore is a Democrat’s Democrat. He’s a former aide to Fairbanks Rep. Adam Wool, and to Assemblyman Pete Petersen. He has served as a caucus director for the Alaska Democratic Party in Alaska’s Capitol, where he was the liaison between the party and Democrat legislators. He has the endorsement of Democrat and union manager Rep. Chris Tuck.
Mark Alan Martinson is registered nonpartisan who has run for the Assembly in prior years. The audio-visual technician is also a Segway tour guide with E Street Audio Visual in Anchorage.
Albert Langdon Swank Jr. is unaffiliated, leans Democrat, and is a consultant and owner of an Anchorage engineering and scientific services firm.
Warren West is a Republican who is retired from the US Air Force. He served during the Vietnam Era and then started an electronics business, Westcom. He also has extensive experience in the schools and teaching CPR.