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Suzanne LaFrance set to become first woman elected mayor of Anchorage


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Anchorage mayoral candidate Suzanne LaFrance at her campaign party at Williwaw Social on Tuesday. (Wesley Early/Alaska Public Media)

Suzanne LaFrance is poised to unseat incumbent Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson and become the city’s first elected female mayor.

Partial, unofficial results from Tuesday’s election night show the former Anchorage Assembly speaker leading Bronson by 9.8 percent.

There are still thousands of ballots to be counted, but Bronson will have a hard time making up his lead. If voter turnout trends continue from recent municipal elections, Bronson would need outstanding ballots to favor him nearly 2-to-1 to close the deficit.

LaFrance’s supporters erupted in cheers as she spoke to a television crew at her downtown campaign party Tuesday night, and again when she took the stage.

“I feel really optimistic and grateful to everyone for all their work and support, and getting us to this moment,” LaFrance said in an interview.

Suzanne LaFrance (right) and her campaign manager Katie Scovic get their first look at the early election results. (Wesley Early/Alaska Public Media)

Kelly Luczak was at the campaign party and said she had tears in her eyes seeing LaFrance’s big lead.

“I think it’s historic and very exciting,” she said. “It really means a lot.”

If LaFrance’s lead holds, she will officially take office on July 1.

“This administration, this mayor has had so many problems,” LaFrance said. “And people have seen how services have suffered. And you know, the scandals and the lawsuits. So definitely yes, there was a path and we put everything we had into it, we had a strategy and we executed it.

Bronson entered his re-election campaign as an unusual incumbent outsider, trailing LaFrance in regular election results, post-election polling and campaign fundraising. He is expected to become the second incumbent mayor to fail to win a second term since 1975, when the city and borough unified.

So far, 51,019 ballots have been counted. LaFrance holds 54.9% compared to 45.1% for Bronson

Incumbent Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson reviews early election results with his wife Debra at his campaign headquarters Tuesday. (Matt Faubion/Alaska Public Media)

At his campaign headquarters Tuesday evening, Bronson thanked his supporters and said there were still votes to be counted.

“We’re not going to commit to anything tonight because, all the votes — I mean, there are people who just voted 30 minutes ago,” he said. “So we don’t want to say anything until their votes are counted.”

In an interview, Bronson said he expects a much higher turnout than in recent history.

“So that is about to change,” he said. “That’s where we were three years ago, and we finally got there. But it was close three years ago.

Outgoing Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson delivers a speech to supporters at his campaign headquarters Tuesday. (Matt Faubion/Alaska Public Media)

While LaFrance would be the first woman elected mayor of Anchorage, another woman has served in the city government’s top leadership position in an interim capacity. This was Austin Quinn-Davidson, who served as acting mayor for approximately eight months starting in October 2020.

The Anchorage Assembly had chosen Quinn-Davidson from among its members to complete Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s second term after he resigned amid a sexting scandal with a local news anchor.

The runoff election follows a highly charged mayoral race.

LaFrance and Bronson emerged as the top two candidates in a 10-person mayoral contest. LaFrance led April’s regular election by fewer than 500 votes.

The election bridges a years-long gap between LaFrance and Bronson, which began when Bronson was elected mayor in 2021. For two years of Bronson’s term, LaFrance served as Assembly speaker.

As president and during her campaign, the registered nonpartisan tended to avoid divisive speeches and politicized administrative failures, but often sided with the center-left majority of Assembly members in discussions on COVID-19 health mandates, homelessness and the general budget.

Bronson, a registered Republican, campaigned by presenting himself as a counterconservative to what he described as a “woke left” Legislature, with many campaign signs emblazoned with the message “Bronson = Balance.”

Bronson and his campaign have addressed their political differences. “I’m normal. She’s woke,” he said during a candidates’ debate in April. He later explained that for him, wokeness is an unhealthy political ideology of the far left.

LaFrance’s campaign emphasized that most local issues are apolitical.

Snow removal, potholes, housing costs and homelessness were among the local issues most frequently raised by city residents before the runoff.

Matt Faubion of Alaska Public Media contributed to this report.


Jeremy Hsieh covers Anchorage with a focus on housing, homelessness, infrastructure and development. Contact him at jhsieh@alaskapublic.org or 907-550-8428. Learn more about Jeremy here.




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News Source : alaskapublic.org

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