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Heads and Tails: Who’s in for Anchorage mayor, explaining the Fansler replacement process


The Feb. 2 deadline for filing for mayor has come and gone. Here’s the list of who filed to run Alaska’s biggest metropolis:

  • Ethan A. Berkowitz
  • Rebecca Logan
  • Dustin Darden
  • Timothy R. Huit
  • Paul Kendall
  • Jacob Kern
  • Matthew Mendonsa
  • Nelson Godoy
  • Ron Stafford
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The election starts when ballots are mailed on March 13 and ends on April 3. This will be the first mail-in election that Anchorage has held after the Anchorage Assembly approved moving to what is essentially absentee voting only.


Dennis Egan, who has served in a public capacity for Juneau for decades, will announce his retirement on his old radio show, “Problem Corner,” on KINY today. Egan, 70, has served since 2009, when Gov. Sarah Palin appointed him to replace Sen. Kim Elton, who resigned to serve in the Obama Administration.

Egan will serve out the remainder of his term and his replacement will be sworn in next January. Who might that be? Among the names discussed in Juneau are his aide, Jessie Kiehl, who seems likely to announce his candidacy. Kiehl also serves on the Juneau Assembly.

Other possible candidates include Mayor Ken Koelsch, a Republican, and Maria Gladziszewski, unaffiliated, who is on the Assembly.

Larry Cotter, the president of the Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Assn., filed notice last week that he’s a candidate. He’s unaffiliated.

The last Republican to represent Juneau in the Senate was Elton Engstrom, Jr., the father of former Rep. Cathy Muñoz. He lost in 1970 to Bill Ray.


Gov. Walker celebrating with now disgraced Reps. Zach Fansler and Dean Westlake, who his Democratic allies pushed into office.

Which three names will District 38 Democrats suggest Gov. Bill Walker pick from to serve out the term of former Rep. Zach Fansler of Bethel?

Actually, that’s putting the cart before the horse, because the district doesn’t have a functioning organization right now. They first need a district chair.

District 38 Democrats meet at 6 pm today at the UA Kuskokwim Campus in Bethel to get the ball rolling. They’ll elect a district chair to serve until April, when they convene again formally.

That person will need to organize the committee that will review resumes and applications for the District 38 seat.

The seat was formerly held by Bob Herron, but urban Democrats from Anchorage recruited Fansler to run and ensured his victory by managing his campaign through the Democrat-leaning Ship Creek Group, founded by John-Henry Heckendorn, now the governor’s top aide and defacto campaign manager. Heckendorn was the driving force behind Fansler’s recruitment and win.

Fansler has been accused of beating a woman so badly her eardrum burst.

Jill Yordy, an aide to Fansler, wrote:

“Today my former boss did the right thing given the circumstances and submitted his resignation letter. Like many others, I was shocked and saddened to learn of the allegations that were reported last week in the Juneau Empire. Those allegations came as a surprise to the staff in his office. As a Representative, Mr. Fansler always treated his staff and constituents with respect and professionalism. He had done his best to serve the people of House District 38. However, these are very serious allegations that undermine public trust and they warrant full and careful consideration. Both Mr. Fansler and the victim deserve to have the matter handled within the criminal justice system. Mr. Fansler’s resignation allows that investigation to proceed without further impeding legislative work or House District 38.

“I support Speaker Edgmon’s leadership and swift action last week in addressing the allegations. This is not an easy situation for anyone and it is reassuring to see the issue of domestic violence being taken seriously by the House Majority Coalition. The next few weeks may be confusing as the selection process for a replacement moves forward, but the staff in the House District 38 office are committed to continuing our work to support the communities in House District 38. The office remains open and we will continue to do our best to keep constituents informed and have their legislative and agency issues addressed as the second session of the 30th Alaska State Legislature continues.”

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Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

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