Monday, February 23, 2009

Gay Marriage Question Opens Up Daylight Among Bloc Of Liberal Anchorage 2009 Mayoral Candidates At Bartlett Democratic Forum

Many of Anchorage, Alaska's more politically liberal voters have expressed frustration about the bloc of prominent liberal candidates in the 2009 Anchorage mayoral race. They are concerned that the candidates will "consume" each other during the campaign and provide a free shot for conservative candidate Dan Sullivan to a runoff election, at the very least, if not an outright victory on April 7th.

The prominent liberal candidates spoken of are Acting Mayor Matt Claman, Eric Croft, and Sheila Selkregg, and during a candidate forum held at the Anchorage Senior Center on Saturday February 21st, hosted by the Bartlett Democratic Club, some political daylight opened up between these three candidates. While the Anchorage Daily News chose not to report on this event, both KTVA Channel 11 and KTUU Channel 2 posted stories, and KTUU news video is embedded below:

The question opening up daylight was about gay marriage. When candidates were posed the simple question "Do you support gay marriage?", here was their responses:

Dan Sullivan: No
Eric Croft: No
Matt Claman: No
Sheila Selkregg: Yes
Paul Honeman: Yes
Walt Monegan: Yes
Bob Lupo: Yes
Dominic S.F. Lee: No
Jacob Seth Kern: Yes
Paul Kendall: No
Phil Isley: No
Merica Hlatcu: No definitive response

A Yes answer simply indicates the candidate supports gay marriage, and may not necessarily imply that, if elected, the candidate would launch a full-blown crusade for gay marriage at the expense of more pertinent issues. But the important factor is that there is now a clear-cut difference between Eric Croft and Matt Claman on the one hand, and Sheila Selkregg on the other hand. Consequently, both Croft and Claman have now staked out more moderate positions, while Selkregg is the more "progressive" of the three candidates.

Other questions directed to all candidates indicate that all support the proposed bond propositions, but reveal a few differences as to priorities. One important question that prominent candidates were unitedly negative in their response: Should the Anchorage School District provide transportation to specialized schools for students outside the district? Prompting this question was an absolutely idiotic ruling from Palmer Superior Court Judge Vanessa White which mandates that the Anchorage School District provide transportation from Wasilla to the Alaska State School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Anchorage for a 13-year-old deaf student, Katelyn Reese, at a cost of $79,000 per year. ASD justifiably fears the decision could serve as a future precedent, and is contesting the ruling. The cost for this needs to be paid from the Mat-Su tax base, and NOT the Anchorage tax base.

For more information on the candidate forum, and in particular, the "lightning round" questions posed only to individual candidates, we turn to Rebecca Logan, who posted her report on The Alaska Standard. In this round, Walt Monegan assured the public that he could set aside personal differences with Governor Sarah Palin and work with her when necessary, Eric Croft indicated that although he didn't have a grasp of the illegal massage therapist problem, he would enforce the laws, and Dan Sullivan explained his opposition to the new smoking ordinance by saying that it exempted all hotel employees.

A question posed to all candidates was about the Municipal Taxpayers League's proposed ballot initative that will rewrite the tax cap. Every candidate supported the initiative, except for acting-Mayor Claman. Mayor Claman indicated that the city CFO had analyzed the initiative and decided that it would actually increase property taxes for individuals, due to the way it was written.

In the final analysis, it appears that this forum has established Dan Sullivan and Eric Croft as the top two candidates, with Matt Claman and Sheila Selkregg on the next rung. The two ex-cop candidates seemed to make little headway. For more information on the upcoming municipal election:

-- List of mayoral candidates HERE.
-- List of school board candidates HERE.
-- Provisional list of revenue bond propositions HERE (final list has not been published yet).

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