Tom Anderson, a lifelong Alaskan and managing partner at Optima Public Relations, passed on Feb. 10 after a long illness.
Anderson had hosted a political talk radio show on KVNT in the Anchorage/Mat-Su since 2011. He had served on the Anchorage School Board, the Zoning Board of Examiners and Appeals, the Municipal Light & Power Commission, and the Anchorage Parking Authority. He was elected to the Alaska House of Representatives for two terms.
Although when he was younger and in the Legislature he became embroiled in a corruption scandal and was convicted in 2007 of corruption, he maintained that the courts had simply criminalized being a legislator.
He served a little more than three years in an Oregon prison, but he didn’t let that define his life. Upon his release, he became a partner with his father, Tom Anderson, Sr., at Optima Public Relations, and rehabilitated his career.
Anderson attended Muldoon Elementary School and Clark Junior High, and graduated from Bartlett High School in 1985. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in public administration at University of Alaska Anchorage. He obtained his juris doctorate from Hamline University School of Law in Minnesota in his early 30s. He served as a legislative aide for six years for Rep. Terry Martin and as a House representative for East Anchorage for two terms. In 2000 he was on the transition team for Anchorage Mayor George Wuerch.
Anderson managed political campaigns for Republicans and was a political consultant as well as a writer, having had articles published in The Hill, Alaska Business Monthly, and other publications.
In his younger years, he was married to former Sen. Lesil McGuire. At the time of his death, he was married to Lailanie Garcia Anderson, whom he adored; he was deeply devoted to her and his children.
Because he was a former legislator, the Alaska flag will be flown at half staff at a day coordinated with the family through the Office of the Governor.