Downing: Anchorage, vote for your homes, wallets, and most of all, your values



There is no sugarcoating the truth: Anchorage has for the last 10 years declined. Crime has risen. Homelessness is greater, more visible, and more damaging to the city than at any time in living memory. Anchorage taxpayers are paying more to a municipal government that returns less.

This week, residents can stop bellyaching and do something about it.

How did this decline happen? The reasons are many, and require a telling too long here. Suffice it to say, we must face a hard truth: The people of Anchorage voted for the leadership that degraded Alaska’s largest city on every visible measurement worth tallying.

Ethan Berkowitz was elected, then overwhelmingly reelected, to run City Hall in the image of his hometown in California, and his legacy, aside from his ill-advised selfies, will be downtown Anchorage being ground zero for a metastasizing population of vagrants who harry law-abiding residents and visitors.

Berkowitz is gone, but he did not act alone. The former mayor enjoyed a supermajority bloc on the Anchorage Assembly that enabled a litany of questionable activities to happen, running roughshod over due process and any legitimate concerns the people of this town had. 

Small businesses were shuttered after years of being clobbered by the virtue signaling city leadership trying to look tough on Covid. The leaders were tough on diners and bar patrons, and tough on virtually anything and anybody, other than a homeless vagrant conducting bodily functions on city sidewalks or parks trails. 

We now have just one electrical company through a sketchy buyout; we have a gasoline tax imposed on anyone foolish enough to drive and fill up within the boundaries of Anchorage. We have a tax on alcohol that is diverted to a host of pet projects, including funding for jobs held by elected members of the Assembly. We have a growing inventory of former hotels, health clubs, and facilities to house people, but no plan to pay for any of its operations. 

Changes occasionally happened, sure. The surprise victory of Mayor Dave Bronson upset the planned coronation of heir-to-be Forrest Dunbar in 2021. Bronson, riding the Save Anchorage wave of anger at an Assembly and Berkowitz who went too far, was able to claw back City Hall, at least.

The past two years have been a demonstration of the old adage “‘”democracy is best kept from the voters.” A hostile Assembly, angered that their interrupted plans for continuing business as usual, went to war with the mayor, and Bronson occasionally did himself no favors (when fighting a city machine, backed by the hostile press, you can’t afford to mess up, even a little bit.)

So here we are, with ballots for our local mail-in election once again out to hundreds of thousands of voters. And this year, a majority of the Anchorage Assembly’s seats are up before the people. 

Some are not running again: Suzanne LaFrance, who defied political gravity by being a crypto-liberal in conservative South Anchorage, is stepping down, some say, to look at taking on the mayor next year.

Austin Quinn-Davidson, another of Berkowitz’ loyal foot soldiers and as Acting Mayor issued the final closure of businesses during COVID, is retreating into a retirement of simple political activism.

Both seats are open with strong, commonsense candidates. Their strength is evidence by the massive firepower the liberal bastion of the ADN is unleashing on both Brian Flynn and Rachel Riess.

Riess’ chances to reclaim a traditionally conservative seat are being assaulted by Democrats who were playing footsie with Ries’ opponent, who has pretended to be a non-partisan, while enjoying almost every penny of donations and volunteers coming from the good old Democratic machine. If conservatives actually vote, Riess should have that seat.

Flynn is the candidate most disruptive to the establishment because his opponent appeared ordained for what was perceived as a “safe” liberal Assembly seat. Both Flynn and his wife have been smeared by the press, by the most liberal members of the Assembly, and by activists for baseless accusations. They are using another page in the old politics playbook: When neither truth nor logic is on your side, simply yell. And judging by the yelling, West Anchorage Democrats are scared of Flynn. 

Finally, there is a challenger in midtown named Travis Szanto. Politics lately has been the fortress of the connected, the wannabe politicos. Szanto is none of that: He is a carpenter who made a name for himself with his hands. Szanto is trying to unseat one of Berkowitz’ leading lieutenants. And humble, respectful Szanto has momentum. 

But none of this matters unless action is taken. For the past decade, conservatives and even moderates have pitched and moaned about the liberal takeover of this city; about the lack of good candidates to vote for; about a lack of momentum.

Those complaints are now moot. Good men and women have stepped up to the plate and are catching hell for it. If Anchorage has any hope in stopping the Assembly from ramming more bad laws down the throats of its residents, voters have to stop whining, and do what winning teams do: take the field and let the scoreboard do the telling. Get out and vote. Return your ballot by mail, or vote in person at the designated locations. 

Whatever you do, vote. If the name Riess, Flynn, or Szanto (or Leigh Sloan, Scott Myers, or Spencer Moore) is on your ballot, mark it, remembering the businesses that went under, the gas taxes you are paying, the shelters that never are enough, the crime that never ends, and the price you will continue to pay otherwise for liberals’ dreams of creating San Francisco of the north.

Have I said it enough? Vote. 

Suzanne Downing is publisher of Must Read Alaska.


  1. Great overview of the demise of our once proud, All-American city, Suzanne. You have stated a simple truth about Anchorage. Unless we reverse the decline by going to the polls, Anchorage will be another city lost to the cesspool of backwards-facing progressive politics.

    • Amen Sis,
      Unfortunately I can’t vote in the upcoming election’s anymore. I wished I could because I have rental properties in Anchorage.
      But even if I still have to stand in line in the valley, I’m still proudly there. I have seen what was once pretty decent town to live in, just going down hill at breakneck speed.
      If Anchorage voters get out and vote they can still turn it around before it’s too late.
      Enough damage is done.
      Get out and vote.

  2. Wait just a minute! You’ll ruin the unique character and flavor of the city! I was planning a visit in the near future and was looking to take in a drag show without having to go to Spenard.

  3. Suzanne am I mistaken or did you over look or just not comment on another important seat being filled in East Anchorage?

  4. What a beautifully written synopsis of the recent history of Anchorage, Suzanne. With this piece and Art Chance’s most recent penning; you hopefully have motivated the conservative voters to do their civic duty and get their ballots voted and delivered for counting. Anchorage formerly was a vibrant and thriving city, the true hub of our magnificent state, but now decimated by the liberal left, via an apathetic citizenry! Thank you for such a timely dissertation, I pray that it stimulates a fantastic voter turnout.

  5. Luckily the influx of Loons in the City of Anchorage is fairly New , with big enough crowds showing up at City hall / else where and Demanding Change while exposing all these Loony Bastards for who they really are, it should be a fixable problem, but if it’s ignored it will grow into a far bigger problem, boot the scum bags out!

  6. Thanks,Suzanne , you seem to hold more confidence in the overwhelming of a broken election system by sheer numbers than I can muster. The only time we have been able to get lazy or intimidated voters out was the last mayor race, with Covid mandates and truck parades. I read JJs comments and sadly think it true. We may well be going to hell in a handbasket, but thanks to you at least we know who’s fanning the flames. The people calling in comments to the recent education parents rights bill are a good indication of how an outspoken few can overwhelm any debate by waiting up to three hours to make their minority views heard. What normal person would be willing to do that? Still can’t figure out how an alphabet person can give birth to two other alphabet children but I guess that is an example of modern science. But that’s what the person said, sure enough. But without closed captioning not available on that broadcast, I may be mistaken. What is not mistaken is that we have 3% of our population making all of the decisions. And the rest of our population seems to be sympathetic or doesn’t care either way. Or just absorbs media and advertising. A large amount of people don’t like what is playing out, they need to get over themselves and VOTE. Even if it takes twenty stamps. As one of the readers stated, with over 30000 subscribers to Must Read, if everyone of them voted, it would be large in a low turnout election such as this. If you are not sure about a ballot issue, leave it blank or vote no. Don’t let those items intimidate you. Answer the questions you know. Your score will be the same. Lay a vote against a candidate you know is bad for your community and you have done your duty. The rest of the ballot is fluff, so no is a safe vote. Easy.

  7. Anchorage does vote its values. At lest the people who bother to vote do.

    That’s why a once great place qualifies as a 3rd world craphole.

  8. We have allowed unregistered foreign subcontractors and their agents take over our country. Why vote in foreign elections that only apply to private corporations pretending to be our governments? All these States and STATES and their Assemblies and ASSEMBLIES have Dunn and Bradstreet numbers dba private corporations in the business of providing governmental services only. They are to be treated like any other corporation. 22 U.S.C.A. 286e Corporations cannot be sovereign governments. No wonder we have so many homeless people when the BOROUGHS that claim to be MUNICIPAL CORPORATIONS keep taking the products of our labors and auctioning them off. Let the STATE OF ALASKA pay its own MUNICIPAL bills. That was decided way back in 1933 via the Banking Emergency Act and the 1937 Pre-Paid Non Obligatory Commercial Debt Obligation. State of Alaska DUNS Number 078198983 It’s all business.

  9. most of the people winning these popularity contests aren’t qualified to watch paint dry (left or right) they are an unnatural elites. Yet they have the ability to completely lock anchorage down on a whim with no proof that their actions will accomplish their goals and no consequences for the negatives that arise from their actions.

    the answer isn’t to vote in a new crop of the political class the answer is to completely defang these psychopaths. very limited funds=very limited power

  10. Thank you, Suzanne Downing! Your blog is the bright light and sharp scythe in this city’s dark and thorny wilderness of proggy municipal government. I hope that your ringing challenge to Anchorage voters will make a notable difference. Democracy has never saved any irresponsible people from themselves, but good citizens must vote the ballot and hope for the best.

    • Sorry to say it Suzanne but they could send out half the ballots and no one would bellyache, due to lack of interest. I have had people shrug when I told them “if you don’t vote, you have no right you b—-“. I fear low turnout will win out again.

    • And just what are one’s values? Where does one get them? Where, on the whole, do they even come from? Do you want Americans voting the values of Kim or Mao or Stalin or Castro? Here, those values are called The Judeo/Christian Ethic. If you were raised here, you were raised under them. They are fundamentally religious.

      • They are inborn as a means of survival. Look up child development Joel. Erickson, Piaget, others.

        Religion teaches the religion’s values.

        • Maureen, I thought all you Marxists believed that mankind is born a blank slate, infinitely programmable and malleable? I mean, it worked out so well in the USSR with “The New Soviet Man”.

    • Why not? You do.

      You can BS yourself you don’t have a religion, but you clearly do. Progressivism.

      • Big of you to tell me what my value is. Have any other delusions about particular people’s personal values.

        • Maureen, the many dissembling and disingenuous comments you have made in this forum over the months and years very clearly demonstrate your values (or the lack thereof).

        • Never mind this Jefferson guy, Maureen. He’s verbally abusive, but otherwise harmless.

        • Like I said, you can BS yourself all you want.

          At best the only person you fool is you.

        • We can pretty much tell what your values are by your history here. They are not family values. They are the values of “anything goes.” We know where “anything goes” actually goes…it goes to hell. Kind of like what we’re seeing under Biden.

  11. the key is not
    quitting after loss, disappointment. I’ll pass along a joni eareckson tada message from Beside Bethesda ” our God might change our situation, sooner than later, Then again. He may keep that ‘thorn’ there allowing that irritation and suffering to draw us closer to His heart, shaping, and forming us for a purpose beyond imagination.” so then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good -1pet4:19.

  12. You can’t blame it all on a Democratic government. As the prominence of the oil industry has declined over the years, many good jobs have left, and there’s a lot less money sloshing around.

    The problems being experienced by Anchorage are intractable and common in other large cities. If the premise of this article is correct, a Conservative Assembly and Mayor will be able to put things right, and a thousand flowers will bloom again. We’ll see about that.

    Liberal politics is not the cause of everything that you don’t like.

      • The massive decline of Prudhoe Bay is the main issue, and it has nothing to do with shuttering of the industry. There’s nothing in Alaska to replace it.

    • What is common about nearly every large city in America? Generationally run (into the ground) by the left.

      You managed to chamber a round in your gun, point it at the bottom of your own boat, and sink yourself.


      Liberal politics isn’t the cause of every problem in this country to be sure. Rampant laziness and whining from the right instead of actually working is an ongoing problem.

      But when 8 out of 10 issues have the same root cause, only a blind partisan can’t make and accept linkage.

    • You do know Dawg that good jobs with good money are normally attached to people who are, IMHO more Conservative. They vote to keep their communities clean, so they’re able to “slosh” that money around wile feeling safe to do so.

      The “good” jobs and money that are left may be less and if so, belong to people who don’t even live in that dump anymore. So can a Conservative assembly and mayor fix this? Maybe. If they do, and do it without all of this money sloshing around it will then prove that policies were the catalyst.

      • Right. Just take a drive around Wasilla and Willow and look at the serious trailer trash out there. Disgusting.

        • Don’t look now, Whidbey, but just as it is with every other arrogant and radical leftist extremist, your classism is showing.
          It always amuses me how you radical leftists love to preach “tolerance” and “diversity”, but then run from those values in real life.

          • Well if you want to talk about classism, let’s talk about yours: Superior values, superior religion, superior intellect, superior lifestyle, superior God, superior skin color, superior sexual orientation, superior political party. Breathtaking arrogance.

            Please don’t criticize other for sinning differently than you do.

          • Ask any home insurance underwriter, a trashy looking home does not show pride of ownership and is usually more risky to insure. Statistics and math may not be your thing.
            Also, “radical leftist extremist” is redundant.

          • Whidbey: more gibberish from an unbalanced mind.
            “Mark Hayden”: and I can remember when actual, REAL leftists used to care about the plight of the lower classes, instead of being openly scornful and contemptuous of them.

        • Well dog that’s what happens when there are democrats present. Look at any city or state and you will find that and the democrats have promised a better life and income for them. How’s that looking after 40 years? Your government lies to you and you believe.

        • There ya have it, the big reveal of the elitist Whidbey Thedog, a classical leftist — he despises veterans who live in trailers in Willow and Wasilla. More than 15 percent of Willow residents are veterans. Many of those are financially stressed veterans. Many of those veterans live in the trailers and are the trailer trash he refers to. He just defined the word “disgusting,” and it applies to his own views of Alaskan patriots.

          • Bullwinkle, classism is the last great frontier of hateful prejudice and bigotry, and as with arrogance and hypocrisy, it is overwhelmingly characteristic of those on the radical left.

          • Yes, Whidbey, given the paragons of virtue and altruistic humanity in Klaus Schwab, Bill Gates, George Soros, Joe Biden, Bill Gates, Justin Trudeau, Henry Kissinger, Jeff Bezos, and others of their ilk, what is not to love and admire?
            Today, the word “elite” has become a virtual synonym of “Orwellian sociopath”.

  13. IMO, nudie Berkowitz is still pulling the strings of his chosen puppets. The once proud city we inhabit has fallen to its’ knees paying homage to the demons of greed ruling our Assembly and the apathy of whiners who do not participate or vote. Thank you for your insights and dedication to positive change which this election may hopefully bring to us.

  14. The incredible debt that the assembly has amassed for the property owners to pay will result in huge increases in our taxes. The amount of commercial property taken off the property tax rolls is not going to be replaced by any other properties. The property tax forgiveness given to downtown properties under the guise of reinvestment, the properties that are being occupied by vagrants that the property tax payers are paying rents on, and the continuation of the funding of non profits that only enrich the officers of those non profits by property tax money are all factors that will continue to indenture the property owner for the foreseeable future. Reeling all the largesse back in will take some very heavy lifting and the current assembly is incapable of rational thought, so it won’t happen under their direction.

    • Alaska has the lowest tax burden of anywhere in the USA. You can look it up.

      No sales tax (many places). No State income tax. No Estate taxes. Permanent Fund Dividends. Energy Relief Payments. Cry me a river. You have nothing to gripe about.

      • You sound like a lock and stock liberal who loves to pay taxes. On the other hand I plan my air travel to by pass Seattle to avoid giving King County the landing fees. You live in a cesspool, quit trying to promote such life style in a state you don’t reside in.

    • Anchorage property tax owners can afford some heavy lifting, with those big pfd checks that keep coming, coupled with no state personal income taxes and no general sales tax in Anchorage. Too high of a tax bite on Anchorites is a figment of some folks’ imaginations.

      So what are the “properties that are being occupied by vagrants that the property tax payers are paying rents on”?

  15. The only sentence in whidbeys comments that has any credibility is “We’ll see about that” . Because He knows without a doubt and just like clockwork as they have already done in the past the pathetic ASSembly majority will stop any attempt at progress the Mayor has or will attempt for the remainder of his term unless they remove him from office and replace him with another pathetic appointee as they did when their pathetic leader in the past showed everyone HIS true colors which resulted in disastrous business lockdowns (except for Berkys of course). And then they went on to finalize the dagger to the heart of the city with the inappropriate spending of 50 million dollars of the feds handout labeled covid relief. So now we have no navigation center but instead we have gymnasiums and run down out of code old hotels (do any Lefties have any more old hotels to sell?)we get to spend millions more on to remodel to build a homeless empire that is sure to bulge the pockets of any democrats “non profit” organization so they can continue to donate billions to “their empire”. Thats a second place finish to Sam Scumbag Freids plan which came in second to Soros for installing their douchebag Biden and his team of misfits. Think back to when Berky became Mayor (with pants). He had an assembly(ElviGray) backing his assault on Anchorage and his plan worked rapidly with the outcome they wanted. A giant money making scheme called the HOMELESS problem. Cmon folks, who can say no to a LARGE group of citizens that dont want to work with an endless supply of drugs and alcohol? They knew the public would bow to their knees and fork over millions while praying for a Hail Mary pass miracle that their donations will HEAL this group that is growing faster than the handouts and freebies they throw at them. Nobody wants to see humans defecating in public so we must house and feed them so they can continue on their path of addiction and laziness. It certainly cant cost that much(unless the numbers increase tenfold). It will take a conservative Mayor AND a “normal assembly” to undo Berky and his misfits destruction on our city. When I drive around town and see the number of signs supporting this radical ASSembly it reminds me that I must get home and start packing because its NOT going to happen. You can lead a horse to water but you cant make them drink. AND you cant lead a horse to water if they wont even stand up. I have helped as many potential voters see the path we are on as I can but that is only a handful. We need everyone to do the same and that is not going to happen as it takes up a lot of time to show people busy working with children what their kids will be facing in school and life thereafter if Anchorage survives that long. When this town looks like Berky and his imported misfits cities of Cali and New York it will be too late to save. Maybe then God will take it into his hands and throw another 9.2 hardball at us or one of the mighty Alaska range volcanoes will blow Anchorage back into the Ice Age. I am glad I lived the era I did and feel very sorry for my kids and grandkids as it makes me feel like I failed them but at least I have given effort. And whidbey is also right when he said “You cant blame it all on a democratic government”.”The problems being experienced by Anchorage are intractible and common in other large cities”. I dont know of any large cities with problems that arent being run in the ground by Democrats.

  16. The fact of the matter is, people living in Anchorage are not taxed on their incomes and don’t pay any sales tax, other than on booze, weed and gas. On top of that, the average household of 2.7 people last year received $8800 in free money from the state. So to suggest that people living in Anchorage are over taxed, is quite simply, ridiculous. Besides the weather, middle income households in N.Y.C., L.A. or Seattle would gladly trade financials and taxes with Anchorage households.

    • So the fact that we are simply on the road to Hell, instead of squarely at the destination, is supposedly proof that further self-damnation is warranted?
      Behold the “logic” of the radical leftist extremist.

      • Assuming you live in Anchorage, it’s a simple fact, you live in the least taxed entity in the entire United States. So “logic” dictates, those who are in denial about this simple fact, should conserve their energies for a real debate.

        “radical leftist extremist” is redundant. Mark Hayden is neither.

    • Thank you for the dose of fact and reality as opposed to the hair-on-fire hysteria that normally fills this site.

  17. What the heck Suzanne???
    No mention of John TRUEBLOOD!
    Your kidding.

    Let me say it then:

    Let’s at least TRY to get rid of Constant.
    Thank You.

  18. Sadly George the only way to get rid of Chrissy is to elect him to state senate so he can join his butt buddy forrest dumbar and work on SB43. State Mandatory sex ed for public schools K thru 12 if I understood it correctly.

  19. The election went as it should have. The people spoke and the outcome was the will of the people – it’s called democracy. Point fingers all you want, but 20% is never going to control the other 80%. I was not a fan of Berkowitz or Dunbar – either was a better choice that what we are currently stuck with. In the end, the message from the voters was ENOUGH – we are in control.

Comments are closed.