Tuesday, April 03, 2012

How I'm Voting In The Anchorage 2012 Municipal Election

Tomorrow is April 3rd, 2012 -- decision day in Anchorage, Alaska. We get to choose a mayor, three school board members, and decide on seven different ballot propositions. Regardless of how you feel about the candidates and the issues, if you're a resident of Anchorage, you should get out and vote. We average only a 23 percent turnout in municipal elections -- the only wasted vote is the one not cast. All the necessary information about how, when, and where to vote is available on the Municipality of Anchorage's Election Page.

Besides, if you really want to pay tribute to the memory of Samantha Koenig, you'll get out and vote. She was just 18 years old, and she might very well have voted this year for the first time.

Nevertheless, I'll tell you how I intend to vote tomorrow:

(1). Mayor: My choice is Dan Sullivan. First, I am basically satisfied with the way Sullivan has run the city. The Sullivan administration has been efficient and economical. Sullivan also respects personal liberty; when he vetoed Ordinance #64 in 2009, it was because he believed that we the people should decide such an important question rather than have it imposed from the top down by the city government.

In addition, his chief opponent Paul Honeman has had some deficiencies uncovered. Most noteworthy is the fact that he voted against ending the IM testing program early after the EPA gave us the green light. His excuse was that the Assembly had made a "commitment" to a six-month grace period. But that meant that thousands of motorists in Anchorage would have had to pay for IM tests for six additional months just to provide corporate welfare to a handful of IM testers who failed to grow with the times. In addition, Honeman got personal with Sullivan towards the end, attacking Sullivan's character in Saul Alinsky fashion. Honeman also supports Proposition 5 and is a member of the NAACP. Honeman may be a good Assemblyman, but he's not good enough to replace Dan Sullivan.

(2). School Board Seat E: My choice is David Nees by a narrow margin over Kathleen Plunkett. Nees demonstrates original thinking and is a fiscal conservative. He also prefers tried-and-true programs in our curriculum. While he opposes Proposition 1, it's time to put another explicit conservative on the school board.

(3). School Board Seat F: My choice, basically by default, is Tam Agosti-Gisler. She brings some imposing qualifications to the table. Her opponent, Richard Wanda, has run an ineffectual campaign.

(4). School Board Seat G: My choice is Natasha Von Imhof over Starr Marsett; my reasoning is explained in greater detail in this post. What I have since learned is that Marsett has a strike against her; she advocates the imposition of a payroll tax like Alaska used to have to as a new source of funding for education. Yet she claims to be sensitive to public reluctance to pass school bonds by expressing the intent to find ways to extend the life of our existing schools. Well, Starr, which is it -- do you want to spend less money or more money? If the trumpet giveth an uncertain sound, who shall join the battle?

(5). Proposition 1, School Bond: I'll be voting Yes. The Anchorage School District has made an effective case for the proposed projects; a detailed list of projects is available. In addition, we need to place the costs in proper perspective.

----- Cost of Bond is $59,077,000
----- 70 percent state debt reimbursement drops Anchorage's share to $17,723,100.
----- Further offset by ASD's retirement of $54.5 million in bond debt. When bond debt is retired, tax obligations to support that bond cease.

Not only do five of the six school board candidates support Prop. 1, but the conservative Anchorage Daily Planet also endorses it.

(6). Proposition 2, Road Bond: I'll be voting Yes; we cannot afford to skimp on road maintenance and construction in our environment.

(7). Proposition 3, Parks Bond: For the first time since I began voting in Anchorage in 1994, I'm voting Yes on a parks bond. The reason: It also calls for the repair/replacement of failing bridges on the trail system. The collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis a few years ago convinced me that you DON'T screw around with bridges.

(8). Proposition 4, Emergency Medical Service/Public Transportation Bonds: Voting Yes; I usually give emergency medical service the benefit of the doubt.

(9). Proposition 5, Anchorage Equal Rights Initiative: I'm voting No. While the gay community obtained and compiled information showing that there is some discrimination against gays, discrimination can sometimes be subjective, and even erroneously assumed due to faulty communication. Furthermore, Identity's final report indicated that gays who recently moved to Anchorage have experienced fewer problems than those who've lived here a long time. This tells me that the problem is enroute to solving itself. Passing Prop. 5 not only risks backlash against gays, but may serve as a temptation to gay activists to file spurious complaints with the Equal Rights Commission to get revenge on someone who pissed them off. Remember all those "ethics complaints" against Sarah Palin? Most of them were groundless and ultimately rejected.

Just as progressives (and Andree McLeod) used the ethics complaint system primarily as a weapon of political warfare against Sarah Palin, I can envision gay activists using Prop 5 as a weapon of political warfare against someone who merely offends them.

(10). Proposition 6, Amending Anchorage Municipal Charter Section 17.13, Definition of "Publish", to allow electronic publication instead of newspaper publication: I'll be voting No; as the Anchorage Daily Planet asks, why not simply publish both electronically AND in the newspaper? It won't break us financially to do both.

(11). Proposition 7, Grants a real property tax exemption of the first $150,000 of assessed value to the eligible widow or widower of a person killed in military service of the United States: I'll be voting Yes; this initiative is strengthened by the fact that the exemption sunsets when the widow or widower remarries. The Anchorage Daily Planet doesn't like Prop. 7, because they think that if the exemption were granted to one class, another would have to pick up the tab. But the sunset provision makes it more palatable.


  1. Could never bring myself to vote for Tam Agosti-Gisler. I am writing in Bob Griffin.

    1. AKan -- I wish I had thought of that. Some of Tam's background makes me leery of her.

      Unfortunately, Bob Griffin decided to sit this one out. Too bad -- had he run for this seat, he would have won by a healthy margin.