Thursday, January 03, 2013

Seven Hopefuls Stake Claims To Harriet Drummond's West Anchorage Assembly Seat; Cheryl Frasca And Matt Claman The Likely Finalists

Update January 15th: On this date, the Anchorage Assembly appointed Cheryl Frasca to replace Harriet Drummond. No real surprise; her credentials were overwhelming.

Screenshot of Cheryl Frasca
The election of West Anchorage Assemblywoman Harriet Drummond to represent District 16 in the Alaska State House on November 6th, 2012 has opened up a vacancy on the Anchorage Municipal Assembly, since her Assembly term doesn't expire until April 2014.

The manner in which we replace such people is to invite interested citizens to apply for the vacancy, after which Assembly members will select the replacement. However, the replacement is only selected to serve until the next municipal election, which will be held on April 2nd, 2013; if the replacement wants to serve longer, he or she must successfully run for election in April. The replacement would then serve for the balance of Drummond's term, up through April 2014. The process is further described in this Assembly press release.

Seven residents of the West Anchorage district have applied for appointment to the Assembly; they're identified as Cheryl Frasca, Matt Claman, Tim Steele, David Nees, Jerry Walton, Gordon Glaser, and Jason Agre. The Assembly will select the replacement in time for the replacement to be sworn in during the January 15th Assembly meeting; according to APRN, Municipal Clerk Barbara Jones explained that Assembly members will vote by secret ballot, and rounds of voting will continue until one of the seven candidates gets a majority. I'm thinking that the final selection will narrow down between Cheryl Frasca and Matt Claman, with a possibility that Tim Steele could be a compromise selection if no consensus emerges in favor of the previous two.

I have listed the seven candidates below, in the order of the perceived likelihood of their selection by the Assembly. Attributes facilitating a candidate's selection include formal education, related background, length of residency in Anchorage and/or Alaska, and the likelihood that the candidate might run for the office in April 2013. It is believed that all other things equal, the Assembly would give preference to a replacement who expresses the intent to run for the seat in April. Names of the candidates are hotlinked to their nomination packages (after the jump):

-- Cheryl Frasca: An enterpreneur whose company specializes in government relations and policy analysis. Has lived in the district for 20 years. Most recently served as the Municipality's Director of the Office of Management & Budget, and was a senior policy advisor to Mayor Dan Sullivan. The latter explains why Sullivan is openly lobbying for her appointment; he told KTUU that Frasca has a deep understanding of the city's budget, which he considers to be important during first-quarter budget revisions.. Combined with an absolutely glittering resume, I believe Frasca is the most likely candidate to be selected. If I lived in the district, I'd be pushing for her appointment.

-- Matt Claman: A lawyer who works for Lane Powell LLC. Better known for his service on the Anchorage Assembly from 2007-2010; also served as interim mayor from January-June 2009 after Mark Begich resigned the post to become U.S. Senator. During his Assembly term, Claman voted much of the time with the liberal contingent on the Assembly. He's tarred by the fact that he approved what were considered "giveaway contracts" with public employee unions, and also by his knee-jerk opposition to the Knik Arm Bridge. Claman not only was defeated when he tried to run for mayor in his own right in 2009, but was defeated for re-election to his own Assembly seat the following year. Still, because of his prior Assembly experience, he's probably the second strongest candidate of the lot.

-- Tim Steele: Currently retired; once worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Better known for his three terms on the Anchorage School Board, where he served on the Audit, Legislative, and Policy Committees. Has a reputation as a political moderate; got very little public attention during his school board tenure. He's lived in the district for 27 years. His best chance for selection would be as a compromise candidate in the event no clear-cut consensus between Frasca and Claman emerges.

-- David Nees: The working class candidate; currently works as a ramp supervisor for Delta Global Services. Formerly worked as a teacher in the Anchorage School District. An outspoken, passionate, and innovative conservative, he's launched petition campaigns to convert the Assembly configuration to 11 single-member districts, and favors geographical school board seats as well. Nees is also circulating a petition to change the municipal election date to October. Nees has twice run unsuccessfully for the school board, doing significantly better the second time. Nees also has his own YouTube channel. But despite Nees' obvious enthusiasm, passion, and understanding of budget issues, he probably has too much of an insurgent image to be seriously considered as a replacement for Drummond by the Assembly.

-- Jerry Walton: Currently the state's Deputy Director of the Facilities Management Office; responsible for the operation and maintenance of over 300 facilities statewide. Over 40 years total public service experience, with 30 of those years with the Municipality of Anchorage. A 28-year resident of the district. Although he has an impressive and extensive public service operational resume, Walton is unlikely to be selected.

-- Gordon Glaser: Retired; previously operated an NGO supporting injury prevention and research. Operates the Alaska Jewish Museum and active in the Lubavitcher community. Served on the Spenard Community Council. A weak candidate unlikely to be selected.

-- Jason Agre: Lists absolutely nothing about education or employment in his paperwork. A Google search revealed he contributed $500 to the Alaska Prop 5 campaign in 2000 which sought to legalize marijuana; this prop was killed by the proposal to grant amnesty and clear criminal records of those arrested and convicted under marijuana laws. More recently, Agre's been active in the Alaskans Against Fluoride campaign; their Facebook page is available HERE. While Agre's public activism is commendable, his failure to fully complete his paperwork makes him the weakest of the seven candidates, and he will get no more than nominal consideration.

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