June 7

By Emily Goodykoontz

Ballots are in the mail for the June 21 special election for a 12th Anchorage Assembly member, who will represent District 1, North Anchorage.
Voters in North Anchorage neighborhoods — which include downtown, South Addition, Government Hill, Mountain View, Fairview, Northstar and northern parts of Spenard, Airport Heights, Russian Jack Park, East and Midtown — should receive ballot packages by Tuesday.

About 37,000 were mailed out last week, according to the municipal clerk’s office. District 1 voters will choose from six candidates on the ballot.
Voters can return their ballots by mail or place it in one of five secure drop boxes open for the special election, located in City Hall’s parking lot, at Clark Middle School, the Elections Center, Fairview Community Rec Center and West High School.

An in-person vote center at City Hall will also be open beginning June 13, with weekday hours from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 18, and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 19. Election day hours are from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Earlier this year, the Assembly adopted a new political map, shifting the boundaries of Anchorage’s six districts and roughly doubling in size District 1 in order to add a 12th member.
In 2020, voters had approved giving the district a second elected seat. For years, it had been about half the size of other districts, with only one representative.
The six candidates are vying for a seat that is technically nonpartisan. However, Anchorage has seen growing division and clashes between Mayor Dave Bronson’s conservative administration and the Assembly’s majority of eight moderate-to-liberal-leaning members.

• Stephanie Taylor, who lost in the regular election earlier this year to Assembly member Forrest Dunbar for an East Anchorage seat, is making another bid for Assembly. Taylor’s residence was bumped into the North Anchorage district when the Assembly adopted its updated map, so she can now run again. Taylor has not previously held elected office. She has been a vocal supporter of Mayor Dave Bronson, and the mayor supported her and several other conservative candidates for Assembly during the regular election.

• Daniel Volland, an optometrist, owner of Ursa Optical in downtown, and vice president of the South Addition Community Council, is making a first-time bid for elected office. He has the support of North Anchorage’s current singular Assembly representative, Vice Chair Chris Constant. Volland supports funding for public safety and homelessness services such as mental health and substance abuse treatment resources and continued funding of the fire department’s Mobile Crisis Team, downtown revitalization and modernizing the Port of Alaska, among other priorities.
• Candidate Tasha Hotch is a resident of Mountain View and works for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium as a program manager. She has served as a vice president on the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. Hotch lost a race for an Anchorage School Board seat in 2018. Hotch has been endorsed by Anchorage Democrats, and has said that improving neighborhood safety, family supports and affordable housing are some of her top priorities.

• Robin Phillips, an administrative director for the Ted Stevens Foundation, is also running. She is the daughter of a longtime Kenai Peninsula politician, former Alaska Rep. Gail Phillips. Phillips has served on several boards of both nonprofits and political organizations, including the Anchorage Republican Women’s Club, according to her website. She is currently a board member of the Food Bank of Alaska and has served on the Anchorage municipality’s Board of Ethics.

• Robyn Forbes is a small business owner, previously owning and operating two local businesses, Shred Alaska and The Propane Guys., and is currently a partner in The Eureka Space, a private business development in Midtown. Forbes has said he has no political party affiliation, that he is opposed to any further COVID-19 related economic restrictions and that he would focus on economic growth and supporting small businesses, according to his website.

• Cliff Baker has worked as a project development team leader and land surveyor for Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources and has worked for the Department of Transportation. He has said that he wants to see a better working relationship between the Assembly and the administration, and traffic and trail safety improvements in Anchorage.