Mayor Bronson: Report on one year of significant progress in Anchorage

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By DAVE BRONSON

Since I took office last year on July 1, 2021, significant progress and advancement have been made on the priorities established at the onset of my administration. When it comes to public safety, economic development, the Port of Alaska, homelessness, property taxes, the budget, Covid-19 and being accountable to the people of Anchorage, we are getting back on the right track and rebuilding our great city.

Today, I believe we are a more united, stronger, and healthier people that are working together to grow our economy and make Anchorage an amazing city to live, work, and play.  

I’ll admit that over the course of the last year I made plenty of mistakes. Coming from the military and airline world, I was not a polished politician when I assumed this role and faced a steep learning curve as your mayor. However, I believe my administration has navigated those initial growing pains and learned valuable lessons along the way.

As my team can attest to, I implore honesty, truthfulness, and integrity in all we do. It’s our job as public servants to shoot straight with you and correct our course of action when you deem necessary. If we make a mistake, we own up to it, ask your forgiveness, and seek to do better. This process is the only way we can improve as a society and as a government working on your behalf. 

Turning to the successes we’ve had over the last year, I’d like to start with the highest priority of government: public safety and preserving law and order. 

The Anchorage Police Department held two strong academies, including the largest since 2017, which brought 23 new officers into the force. APD secured its first cold case homicide indictment and thanks to the reorganization of the drug units, officers have substantially increased the seizure of illegal drugs, guns, and money. 

I prioritized the protection of women and children in our community by standing up a special domestic violence unit within our Department of Law. This 11-person unit has five prosecutors and two APD officers assigned to it, who are tasked with prosecuting and preventing domestic violence in Anchorage, specifically crimes involving intimate partner violence, and child abuse and neglect. 

Additionally, the Anchorage Fire Department held an academy that saw 26 new firefighters join the service, with all recruits graduating the academy – a first since 2004. AFD secured $14 million in state reimbursements for medical transports that translates into savings for Anchorage taxpayers, and helped Anchorage be one of eight communities nationwide to receive the Lighthouse Community designation. Being a Lighthouse Community means our emergency response professionals are all-stars when it comes to saving lives.

Most importantly, thanks to a robust police force and active policing strategies, crime is down nearly across the board – especially violence crime. We are making Anchorage a safer community for all. 

Turning to the economy, Anchorage is roaring back after languishing for years under misguided policies and COVID shutdowns. In short order we worked with developers to bring about nearly $300 million worth of projects in downtown alone, with more projects in the works. The Block 416th Avenue Project, and Debenham’s apartment complex are substantial investments that will bring much needed housing to downtown, and create hundreds of jobs in the process.

With only 4% unemployment, and the number of residents receiving unemployment benefits at the lowest level since 1999, nearly everyone in Anchorage who wants a job either has one or can get one. 

As we all know, Anchorage is facing a housing shortage. To counter this I proposed an ordinance to spur development of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) – also known as mother-in-law apartments – by providing a 10-year tax exemption for homeowners who build an ADU on their property.  To further spur development and construction in Anchorage, we undertook a huge rewrite of Title 21, that was approved by the Assembly. The benefits of this effort are already bearing fruit – building activity is up nearly $50 million this year over 2021. 

Coming into office, addressing homelessness was at the top of my list. However, it quickly became apparent that saving and rebuilding the Port of Alaska had to take precedence. With 90% of Alaskans relying on goods and food that enter port, and with the port at risk of collapsing in an earthquake, I directed all available resources to confront this impending crisis. 

We requested $600 million from the State to help fix the ailing cargo docks, we rallied port users to support our plan, I travelled to D.C. to present the case to our congressional delegation and lobby federal agency heads, and I spent considerable time in Juneau during the legislative session imploring legislators on both sides of the aisle and Gov. Mike Dunleavy – who helped our cause tremendously – on the need to secure funding this year. 

This work paid off, as we secured the largest appropriation ever – $200 million – for the port. The Municipality also triumphed in our lawsuit against the federal maritime administration, that could result in winning $367 million in damages due to botched design, construction, and management failures that took place during a prior expansion project at the port.  

On homelessness, it must be noted that the progress made in the last year on this issue is historic. Never have so many people come together to address this humanitarian crisis facing our city. Through work with the Assembly and community partners, hundreds of new transitional housing units now exist that did not prior to the pandemic. These include 83 beds at the former Sockeye Inn for seniors and the medically infirm, 130 rooms at the former GuestHouse for workforce supportive housing, and 80 similar rooms at the Aviator Hotel. This fall, the Salvation Army will be reopening their earthquake-damaged facility on 48th Avenue with an additional 68 substance misuse treatment beds. 

The Sullivan Arena, which was costing taxpayers $1 million a month to operate, is now closed and undergoing repairs to bring it back to its intended purpose as a sporting and community event center. Perhaps most significantly, the Municipality will be taking a direct role in the homelessness crisis with the planned opening of the navigation center this fall. This 150-bed combined shelter and homelessness navigation center will provide an entry point into the system for hundreds of individuals in Anchorage who don’t know where to start. All these seemingly independent steps put us one step closer to addressing this community problem together.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention property taxes and the budget. The budget I put forward last fall was $7.5 million lower than the budget put forward by the prior administration. Furthermore, the property tax savings delivered to homeowners with average priced homes was over $560 under my budget. My commitment to reduce the tax burden on property owners remains resolute. We will continue pursuing avenues to make government leaner, more efficient, and accountable to the people, while keeping our city safe. 

No mandates, shutdowns, or ill-advised Covid restrictions were issued by my office. We got the Muni – aka taxpayers – out of the Covid testing business and by working with community partners increased the availability of testing, vaccine, and treatment clinics in our city. We kept businesses open for business, churches open for worship, and gatherings happening in Anchorage.  

As your mayor, it is vital to hear from and meet with the people I represent. Over the course of the last year, I participated in more than 220 events and ceremonies, and 67 speaking engagements. My office is open and I’m here to listen to you.

Likewise, some of the work my team has done to connect with and build up our city include organizing relief efforts for the people of Tonga struck by the volcano; conducting multiple job fairs to provide employment opportunities to underprivileged communities; teaching financial literacy to elementary school children; engaging Anchorage youth with their local government; and starting a mentorship program within the Mayor’s Office. 

These accomplishments exemplify just some of the work my Administration has undertaken the last year. Other than being a husband and father, it is the greatest privilege and honor of my life to serve as your mayor. Representing and working on behalf of 300,000 people each day is a humbling and motivating experience. I will continue to advance policies that grow our economy and create jobs, keep property taxes low, limit government encroachment on your freedoms, protect life and property, and put people first. 

Thank you for your trust and prayers.

Dave Bronson is mayor of Anchorage.

36 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you Mayor Bronson. Just think how much we could accomplish if you had an assembly that were trying to tear you down every step of the way! Please know we are with you!

  2. You mention how many people came on board the Police Dept from the last two academies but I’d be interested in how many people left the department in the same time period. The turnover of sworn officers is very concerning. Academies are necessary to bring new officers on, but without having the proper incentives in place for retention, we will eventually only have junior officers on the street. Republicans give lip service to supporting law enforcement, but when push came to shove to vote to re-establish a pension plan for sworn officers in Alaska, republicans came out swinging against it. It’s time to take care of our law enforcement community with more than words.

    • They earn more than enough money to start their own pension plan privately. That goes for dept of public safety. Anymore complaining they can serve as a hotel housekeeper. Better yet dee you be better learning how to
      be grateful if you work as a hotel housekeeping. Hotels are hiring in need of housekeepers. We can’t have everything. We have to be content with what we are given

    • One would infer from your comment that you think Democrats have a rich history of supporting law enforcement when in fact the opposite is true. You are not unaware of that… which would mean that you’re affiliated w/ APDEA and simply want more free stuff or otherwise can’t be pleased? Explain.

    • Money doesn’t solve the retention problem, instead it often makes things worse. When you offer high financial benefits for a public service job, it often attracts the wrong crowd. Fair pay and benefits equal to the private sector for similar skills is not unfair for anyone. We really don’t need to keep attracting officers from the lower 48 to come up just for the money, competing with our local work force for the same jobs. When they do, they usually do not stay, because living in Alaska with family roots in the lower 48 isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. There’s your retention problem. Every industry in our state has seen the same problem.

  3. This is a great article. Suzanne, if you read comments here – can you possibly do an article about Gov. Dunleavy and list his accomplishments over his time in this office? I voted for him once, but can’t really think of anything concrete he’s accomplished and am trying to decide whether to vote for him again or not. Or … if anyone who comments on here could answer this, please do. Thank you.

    • Emily, I just want to point out where credit is due: this is not an article by Suzanne, but is a guest column written by the subject, Mayor Dave Bronson. The Mayor did a fantastic job explaining how great he is for Anchorage and all of the things he’s doing on your behalf–I’m sure Governor Dunleavy can write an equally compelling piece extolling all of the wonderful things he has done for the State. Of course, so could the Anchorage Assembly, but MRAK would not likely be inclined to publish such propaganda.

  4. Mr. Mayor:
    You are a “breath of fresh air” and doing an outstanding job of putting Anchorage on a well corrected course for our citizens, business community and visitors who come here for their Alaskan Experience. Keep up the good work.

  5. Congratulations Suzanne you are doing what GOD had intended for you ma’am. Look at must read Alaska what an awesome fun invention keep doing you Suzanne thank you. It takes absolute guts to be of oath integrity an oath taker of integrity is worth there weight in gold. Mayor Bronson your on the front line setting the example of home of the brave. Assembly of anchorage I pray you all stop mocking your duty to us, I pray GOD will have enough soon and show us what happens to oath breakers who mock him us and our constitution. So help you GOD you all swore to please be of for and by the people flip your script.

  6. THANK YOU MAYOR, for your hard work and great strength at all odds with all that the Assembly has thrown at you..We appreciate your hard job.

  7. Great summary by Mayor Bronson outlining his conservative policies that are helping to bring Anchorage back from the usual post democrat administration doldrums. [See Mayor Sullivan after Mayor Begich]. The Mayor’s focus is doing what is right for the people of Anchorage. The Assembly’s focus is on punishing the Mayor for the audacity to stand for election and unforgivable sin of winning that election. Especially against the democrat darling Forrest Dunbar. So, Mr. Mayor remain strong and resolute. You are doing good things for Anchorage and the people of Alaska who depend on the city.

  8. Considering the open hated you face, you’ve done an amazing job.

    Sometimes all you can do is stand, but you do stand. Much more than we can say for our spineless governor

  9. Thank you for your service mayor Bronson. Your leadership has been a breath of fresh air for Anchorage.

  10. Thank you so very much for stepping up! It was very obvious that you took office and hit the ground running!!! Keep up the good work!

  11. Thank you Mayor Bronson!
    We appreciate your hard work on our behalf! Keep up the great work.
    There are nine members of the ASSembly that should stop trying to destroy our city and learn to set the same positive example you provide daily.
    Be well, stay strong.

  12. What a breath of fresh air to have someone of integrity as our Mayor. When people get out to vote it can make a difference. The assembly needs to get on board and follow his leadership instead of making fools of themselves.

  13. Mayor Bronson has hollowed any City employees that do not conform to his agenda. After serving his single term as Mayor someone with actual adminstrative skill and community support will be needed

    • As usual, Frank, you are projecting the faults, sins and crimes of your own fellow radical leftist extremists onto those who oppose them. The fact that you can even dare attempt to attack Mayor Bronson while simultaneously ignoring or rationalizing the arrogant and power-seeking outright crimes of the rogue Marxist ass-embly majority (such as their current ongoing coup attempt to unilaterally rewrite the municipal charter and oust an elected mayor based on nothing more than their hatred for him) speaks a great deal to your utter lack of honesty and integrity.

    • People = policy. If you were running a business and one of your managers was not aligned with your vision of the company, you would require they conform or you would fire them. That’s exactly what the mayor has done. What’s wrong with that?

      • The Assembly is not one of the “mayor’s managers”–they are an independent body. The sooner folks learn this…for example, was Senator Mitch McConnel expected to do exactly what former President Trump said? Okay, bad example. In theory, the legislative body of government is supposed to be separate from the executive branch. So, the solution here is to find candidates that the rest of the city likes that you approve of–but that’s going to be a tough sell.

  14. Thank you for your report. You are an excellent executive. 👏 Your prior experience is much needed by fully one half of the population of the state of Alaska who find themselves living the dream in this city. I wish the assembly would stop actively causing you adversity as you serve the city. It is awkward and a waste of human energy for them to engage in such stupid hostility. Without the adversarial relationship the opposers systemically provide to interfere with your public service we might have integrated a return to economic strength more robustly. Thank you for always keeping the residents and taxpayers in mind.

  15. Please lean on Senators Murkowski and Sullivan to get the federal infrastructure money to complete the port. We all know that precious little was actually for infrastructure, which is why I think you have some leverage here. Don’t ask, demand the full funding. This is one project that is actually “shovel ready’.
    That one thing done would clear the deck for the remainder of the agenda.

  16. One more idea: isn’t it time to reprint the municipal Charter for the public to obtain? No, it’s not available in total “on-line”. We need the whole thing, printed and available to all who want it. It is unsafe anymore, I believe, to invest here without it. It is not a living breathing listing of phrases and sound bytes regardless of popular misconception(s). We need to see it though it is NOT tantamount to the US Constitution but similar. It is worthy of scholarly examination(s). The Holy Scripture says “There is wisdom in a multitude of counselors”. It also says: “If the blind lead the blind; will they not both fall into the pit?”. For that matter I would not object to study copies of the US Constitution be delivered to each attendee at the regular Tuesday Public Meeting. We would like a report on how many items appeared on the agenda last year and how they got there? IS a clerk drawing up our agendas for us? How is that working out for us? Does each department head justify his department monthly with public reports? Are some departments unpeeled anymore? How many are peopled with homebodies, the homebody departments(s). Let’s have them aboard with substantiated numbers of what they are doing. Ask the phone department to identify who is communicating with Snatzieland, Lake Geneva, WHO and what have you and phone time. And then let’s have a meeting about this. That’s primitive management and I’d like to get there with you.

  17. Mayor,
    This is a fantastic list of accomplishments, especially in the face of the Assembly’s adversity. Thank you for all you have done to improve our community.
    Thank you, Must Read Alaska, for sharing this news.

  18. Mayor Bronson is one of the hardest working mayors this city has ever elected. He is dedicated to serving our community and providing the leadership necessary to bring back Anchorage from near collapse. The single most important help he needs is to replace the nine uber-liberal progressives on the assembly with private sector, small government, and freedom respecting liberty understanding assemblymembers. This last year has been the worse in our history because of an antagonistic assembly bent on destroying our mayor. They have not been focused on improving our community, in fact, most of them were the cause of our problems. If you want to see Mayor Bronson reach his peak of potential in returning Anchorage to greatness, vote out the nine liberal Assembly cabal members. Next chance to make that change comes in April.

  19. Mr. Mayor, you were dealt a terrible hand but have stuck with your game and in the end you will win and that means the people of Anchorage and Alaska will win as well….you by most any measure are doing a great job for the folks…stay true to your values and in the end it will end well for the folks….and it will not end well for those who continue to build stumbling blocks for positive progress as the City rights its ship and sails forward…Thank you for the daily effort you bring everyday to remain positive….

  20. Mayor, a few suggestions:

    1. Given that you can not trust the nine extremists on the assembly any more than you could trust holding an angry rattlesnake in your bare hands- you need to have a lawyer vet every official action you take. Make sure that you can legally defend the decisions you take- the assembly has made it clear that they want to remove you. Make it hard for them.

    2. We need an official accounting of how much was misspent/ wasted on the Port of Anchorage project. We need an outside engineering assessment from a firm not connected to the usual corruption found in Alaska. Many firms will simply tell you what you want to hear because they want to curry your favor and get repeat business. You need an honest assessment that will spare no one- and offer firm recommendations of how to avoid wasting more public money.

    3. Getting property taxes down is essential. Most government is bloated and inefficient. In 2020 the average MOA salary was $84,000.00 plus a massive benefit package. You have cops making almost $200,000 per year- before benefits. With this socialist assembly and unions fighting every move you make, getting reforms in place will be hard. But, expose the problems so the public can help you, and help replace the intolerant extremists on the assembly.

  21. It is great to see a leader in a spiritual temple. I have seen him there and am more inclined to trust him as a public servant. A complete 180 degrees from the previous mayor and his gold rush mentality.

  22. Thank You Mayor Bronson.
    It was great seeing you at the AK Airlines Center rally.
    You got a standing ovation sir
    (except for self centered Sarah P of course, who only salutes herself)

  23. Thank you Must Read Ak for printing this article. It is scary to live in a time when our main news media is owned and not reporting anything of substance. Thank you, Mayor, for your hard work and commitment in a time when our world is being turned upside down. Thank you Both!

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