Retired middle school teacher Mike Cronk has filed to run for House District 6 to replace Rep. Dave Talerico, who has chosen to not run for reelection after serving three terms.
A registered Republican, Cronk was raised in the district in the small town of Northway, where he became well known in the region as a high school basketball star and was named all-schools “player of the year” before the designation was divided by school sizes in Alaska.
Cronk attended University of Alaska Fairbanks and returned to teach in Northway, before becoming a middle school teacher in Tok.
If his name seems familiar to readers outside the sprawling district, it’s because the year 2017 turned out to be a fateful year for Cronk. He and friends attended the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas when his friend Rob McIntosh was shot in the chest during the mass shooting that killed 59 people. Cronk held his fingers on the bullet holes, dragged his friend to safety, put him in the back of a pickup truck with other wounded people, and eventually flagged down an ambulance. In the chaos that followed, another wounded concert-goer died in his arms on the way to the hospital.
Cronk serves on the Alaska Gateway School District School Board, and is well known across the district for his basketball talent — both for his high school and college skill and his involvement in adult leagues — and also because he has refereed games throughout the district.
“Mike and I have communicated closely over the last year,” Talerico said. “He is a solid person who really understands and relates to people of all ages in our District. His active Alaska lifestyle of hunting, fishing and trapping, along with his strong sense of honesty and his lack of political gobbledygook is really refreshing.”
“Dave has done an incredible job for our District. Now that he has decided to retire I’m motivated me to file for his House Seat,” Cronk said of the representative from Healy.
Cronk is a fiscal conservative who understands that next year’s budget will be the most challenging yet. As a longtime teacher of math and science, he has been a servant of the people for 25 years, and has thick skin from teaching and being on the school board.
“I’ve been through a lot and I believe I can make a difference. We need to be able to unite people and work together,” he said.
As a lifelong hunter, Cronk is attuned to the subsistence way of life in District 6. “Subsistence is the tie that binds us in our District. It is about putting food on our tables and passing on to our children the blessings of wild harvest and wise management of our natural resources,” he said.
Cronk knows the district well, having spent time in nearly every village and town in the sprawling interior region that reaches Arctic Village, Venetie, and Anderson, wrapping around Fairbanks.
Earlier this week, Elijah Verhagen, a former Republican, filed to run as an undeclared candidate for the seat, which means he will skip the primary and go directly to the general election ballot.