Sunday, March 29, 2009

Anchorage Daily News Promotes Experience Over Ideology In 2009 Mayoral Candidate Endorsements; Dan Sullivan And Sheila Selkregg Their Faves

The Anchorage Daily News has finally dished out their candidate endorsements for the 2009 municipal election campaign, and they're playing the "experience" card rather than the ideological card for once. Republican Dan Sullivan and Democrat Sheila Selkregg are touted based upon their more extensive municipal experience, although in a separate article, they bestow "Honorable Mention" upon Eric Croft, Matt Claman, and Walt Monegan.

More information on all mayoral candidates and the municipal election HERE. Mayoral candidates will also appear on KAKM Channel 7's "Running" on Thursday April 2nd, from 7 P.M. until 10 P.M. (school board candidates appear on April 1st, same time frame).

What's interesting is that ADN is trying to make Sheila Selkregg more palatable to mainstream voters by minimizing the differences between her and Dan Sullivan. ADN portrays Selkregg as a "budget hawk", although she voted in favor of the union contracts in the first place. ADN also portrays Selkregg as supporting "open government", and points out that she also considers City Hall to be "top heavy". They even remind us that Selkregg once worked for republican mayor Rick Mystrom (the small "r" is not a typo).

But there are very real differences between Sullivan and Selkregg. Sullivan is far more pro-business. Sullivan is also more supportive of infrastructure; in contrast, Selkregg not only opposes extending the southern terminus of the Knik Arm Bridge into Downtown, but opposes the project itself.

Candidates' views on priorities also reveal another major difference. Dan Sullivan clearly places a higher priority on law and order than Sheila Selkregg. Selkregg places a higher priority on urban planning, but too much urban planning can lead to gentrification, which often promotes livability at the expense of affordability and liberty.

In addition, there is a clear difference between Sullivan and Selkregg on social issues. When asked about gay marriage, Sullivan opposed it, while Selkregg supports it (Croft and Claman also opposed it, while Monegan supported it). Admittedly, social issues tend to be secondary in a mayoral campaign, but the information is useful to those needing more help in deciding between the candidates.

In the final analysis, ADN considers Dan Sullivan and Sheila Selkregg the two best candidates from a large field. Conservative voters concerned about property taxes will gravitate towards Sullivan, while more liberal voters who place greater importance on smart community planning and effective administration might prefer Selkregg. Either one is considered by ADN to be a solid choice who can handle the job, correct some of the Begich administration's excesses and help keep Anchorage moving forward.

In a separate opinion column, ADN selects and evaluates "the best of the rest":

-- Eric Croft: Smart, capable and politically astute, but he'd be a stronger candidate if he had broader experience with the details of local government. ADN also takes a swipe at Croft for his explicit support of the Second Amendment. [Ed. Note: The selection of an experienced staff would easily counter Croft's lack of municipal government experience. Croft has clearly proven he can reach out to multiple constituencies. Even conservative shock jock Dan Fagan says he could live with Eric Croft as mayor.]

-- Matt Claman: Highlights the irony of Claman trying to rework contracts that he voted for when the Assembly approved them just three months ago. Believes only two years on the Assembly, with little prior city or political experience, is not enough to qualify him for the job. He simply needs more seasoning. [Ed. Note: Agree wholeheartedly with this assessment. His lack of seasoning shows, and Alaska's largest city cannot afford a mayor who needs OJT (on-the-job training).]

-- Walt Monegan: Considerable wisdom from 30-plus years as a cop. But his strength seems to lie in reflection rather than hands-on management. Talk to Walt Monegan and you get a sense of who he is and what he believes, and it's good. But you come away unsure of what specific things he would do and how well he would do them as mayor. [Ed. Note: Monegan has been getting more specific with the passage of time. One of his most innovative ideas is to create a separate division of cops (who would not carry guns) for traffic enforcement, freeing up the fully-sworn cops for the nasty stuff.]

The failure of ADN to mention the last "marquee" candidate, Paul Honeman, indicates that ADN has relegated him to the second division. Although an interesting and thoughtful candidate, Honeman never could develop any traction at the polls, only garnering about two to three percent.

The Anchorage Daily News has also awarded endorsements in the school board races.

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