Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Sullivan Era Begins: Dan Sullivan Officially Swears In As Mayor Of Anchorage, Alaska; Will Cut Unnecessary Expenses And Focus On Necessities

On July 1st, 2009, the Sullivan Era began in Anchorage, Alaska. Facing hundreds of people in a packed Discovery Theater and sharing the stage with four decades of predecessors, Dan Sullivan took the oath of office at 4:30 P.M. and became Anchorage's seventh elected mayor since the city and borough of Anchorage combined in 1975, forming a single municipal government. Former mayors in attendance included Dan's father George Sullivan, Jack Roderick, Tony Knowles, Tom Fink, Rick Mystrom, George Wuerch, Mark Begich and Matt Claman. Alaska Superior Court Judge Stephanie Joannides, considered one of Alaska's better judges, administered the oath of office.

Anchorage Daily News series of 25 photos available HERE.

Mayor Sullivan wasted little time in setting forth his agenda. First and foremost, he will implement an immediate hiring freeze for the city's workforce. He will also curtail all city travel and impose strict controls on overtime. And Sullivan also asked citizens and businesses to help out where they can by ratcheting up charitable giving and volunteerism.

Much of the new mayor's first speech echoed his campaign platform: Along with cutting city spending, he said he would concentrate police where they're needed most and try to reduce crime, tackle what he termed "an energy crisis" brought on by dwindling Cook Inlet natural gas reserves, and focus his administration's attention on repairing and maintaining the public improvements spearheaded by former Mayor Mark Begich. KTUU video of swearing-in HERE, and KTUU news story video embedded below:

Sullivan plans an interesting diversity initiative. He said he will introduce a community celebration called "All Americans Week." The idea is to promote cultural and ethnic diversity within the common denominator of American nationality. The idea is that we should be Americans first, Alaskans second, and our heritage third. This is the only way that diversity can work. Sullivan also discussed the community-wide debate over the proposed gay nondiscrimination ordinance, but did not specify how he would react to it.

But perhaps most importantly of all, Sullivan said he will name a sort of energy czar to take on the energy issues. He is fully aware of our vulnerability to a catastrophic wintertime power outage which could be triggered by insufficient natural gas supplies, and intends to resolve the problem. "Peak demand during the winter months, particularly when the temperature drops below zero, have put our entire system in jeopardy over the last two years and this is unacceptable," he said. "I will appoint an administration official to work at the top levels of government, the top levels of industry, to develop an energy plan that will lead to a secure ... future."

Dan Sullivan has the potential to become one of the best mayors in Anchorage's history. Like the last conservative mayor George Wuerch, he believes in being tightfisted. Unlike Wuerch, Sullivan believes in fully funding necessities. The right-of-center Sullivan will effectively balance a left-of-center Assembly. But one of Sullivan's strengths is his ability and willingness to listen to all points of view. This will carry him a long way. I also recommend you read Assemblyman Patrick Flynn's thoughtful assessment of Sullivan; Flynn is cautiously optimistic. A KTUU "unscientific" poll conducted July 1st also reflects this optimism; 64 percent of the 545 respondents said they were optimistic about Sullivan's chances for success.

As for Matt Claman? He now reverts to his Assembly seat as one of the two Assembly Members representing West Anchorage. On June 29th, the Anchorage Daily News published an exuberant puff piece claiming that he was more than just a "caretaker" mayor. While Claman was successful in convincing the public sector unions to give back some of the wage hikes to which the Assembly had earlier agreed, he badly miscalculated the community's willingness to accept the extension of official nondiscrimination protection to gays, and allowed his trips to national mayoral conferences to become a political football. Overall, I'd say he deserves a letter grade of C+. To be fair, he inherited a tough assignment, but his political skills and charisma are too limited to carry him much beyond the Assembly or State Legislative level. I don't see him successfully aspiring for Mayor or Governor in the future.


  1. matt clayman is a closet fluffer who's limp wrists could not shine sullivans shoes.

  2. Hi, who wrote this blog?