Passing: Former Rep. Tom Anderson

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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.

32 COMMENTS

  1. His lawyer from his criminal conviction, Paul Stockler, ended up in the same federal joint in Oregon with him, and they ate meals together.

    • Might not be a completely accurate statement on the timeline, but Stockler did lose his attorney’s license and went to federal prison for income tax evasion. About a $million bucks worth of fines too. If Tom had a better lawyer, he wouldn’t have gone to prison. RIP

  2. Learning of Tom’s passing has deeply saddened me. I met him in 1988. We were both involved in politics in the Muldoon corner of town. Our paths then took different directions. But as I read the positive comments above, I smile and say, yes, that was the Tom that I knew from so many years ago. Thank you Suzanne for publishing this.

  3. This guy was a good Alaskan.
    I feel I knew him personally because he was so truthful & honest about himself on the air.
    A real gentleman, I will miss his voice.
    RIP

  4. I went through Dunleavy’s press releases back to Sept. 1 2022. I could not find a press release lowering the flag for Vic Kohring nor any announcement from his newsroom. Was the flag lowered?

    • Hopefully not. A criminal and a deadbeat dad should never get respect that he never showed anyone else If he were dishonorably discharged from the military, would he get a 21 gun-salute? Nope.

  5. Tom was easily befriended as he had a wonderful gregarious personality. He was fair in judgement and had a tender heart. Intelligent and witty he was inclusive and loved by all. He always had a smile and a warmth that I felt every time we saw each other or conversed. He will certainly be missed but now is free from pain and suffering. RIP Tom!

  6. My heart is with Grayson, Lailanie, her children, Tom Sr and all the Andersons.

    Rest in love and power Tom ❤️🤍💙 Thanks for all the advice and friendship over the years…. you’re remembered fondly by the Alaskans whose lives you touched personally and professionally.

  7. Many fond memories of conversations with Tom on his radio broadcast. A good talented man that I continue to appreciate and admire. Blessings of comfort, love and joy to you Tom, and your family.
    Greg

  8. Correction: was only devoted to 2 of his children. He abandoned his 11 year-old daughter in utero because his “his clients would think he is a fool.” And he left his 2 middle sons when he went to prison for taking bribes to pay their $13K child support arrears he accrued, which eas revealed at his trial. Tom resented them for his crimes. The fact that no one knows about his youngest child, a daughter, is telling. How many of those lawmakers who stole from Alaska died prematurely?

  9. Michele,
    The man is gone. No need to bring up family particulars here. We all have some skeletons in our closets. Let the man and his family go in peace.

  10. I transported Tom several times from Saint Elias to his appointments after his stroke. He was a great guy, very intuitive and a great listener as well. He even gave me a “shout out” on the air. Sorry to see a good man go.

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