In a debate with mayoral candidate Dave Bronson on Tuesday, Assemblyman Forrest Dunbar said that his co-sponsorship of an ordinance that relaxed the Anchorage emergency order restrictions on businesses was not a calculated political move.
Dunbar said it was something he had been thinking about for some time and that he was encouraging the city to move from “mandates” to “recommendations.”
The Anchorage full vaccination rate for Covid is below 50 percent, and Dunbar had said two weeks earlier the rate needs to be 70 percent before he’d be willing to relax the restrictions.
Alaska’s News Source–KTUU’s Mike Ross asked Dunbar if, given the mayoral runoff in two weeks, Dunbar could understand how his vote looked political, rather than scientific.
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Dunbar replied, “The truth is, two weeks before that I was also having conversations with the health department trying to get these things turned into recommendations because we saw the trajectory of the vaccine.”
But two weeks earlier, Dunbar had a completely different story on the record at the Assembly. He spoke at length about the need for restrictions on businesses, gatherings, and sports, and he was hoping the city could open by June if everyone behaved. He said the State of Alaska was going to have an emergency declaration for most of the year.
“There’s no declaration at the state level. But the governor asked for one. The governor asked for one to go into the fall and even into the winter. But the Legislature was so caught up in partisan bickering that they failed to pass it in time.”
Dunbar wasn’t reading the political tea leaves. The governor didn’t want the emergency lockdowns to go into the fall or winter and neither did most of the Legislature. In fact, as soon as he signed the disaster declaration on April 30, he then signed a proclamation ending the disaster.
But Dunbar two weeks ago was prepared for a long emergency through the summer:
“So the state has asked for and is now moving towards a much longer emergency declaration than what we were asking for. I don’t think we need to go that long, because I actually do believe have we are going to get to 70 percent. We are going to be able to remove these E.O.s [emergency orders.] We’re going to be able to do it this summer. I hope we can do it before June, but even if we don’t I think we can move toward reducing these things,” Dunbar said of the restrictions during an Assembly meeting two weeks ago.
“But right now I don’t want to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. We have come so far. We’ve got our deaths down to zero per week, which is tremendous. I will support extending this because again, I think it makes sense,” Dunbar said. And with that, he said he would be a yes vote to continue the emergency orders that severely damaged businesses in Anchorage.
This week, he did a 180 and proposed to remove the restrictions except for the mask mandate, which is still in effect. The mayoral runoff election ends on May 11 at 8 pm.
Dunbar is running on a theme of fact-based leadership. Must Read Alaska rates this Dunbar statement as Fact-Free.