Anchorage mayoral race could be decided in runoff election

April 7, 2021 GMT

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Two candidates on opposite ends of the political spectrum were leading the race to become the mayor of Alaska’s largest city, but it wasn’t yet clear if any of the 15 candidates would emerge with enough votes to avoid a runoff election.

Only about 4 percent, or just over 10,600 votes, in the city’s mail-in ballots were counted Tuesday in the Anchorage mayoral race. Forrest Dunbar, a current city assembly member, led with 3,701 votes, or 35 percent of the votes counted. David Bronson was second with 3,116, or 30 percent, and former city manager Bill Falsey was the only other candidate with over a thousand votes, at 1,281, or 12 percent.

The city had received more than 45,700 ballot envelopes as of Monday and estimated it received 13,000 more on Tuesday, the Anchorage Daily News reported. Also uncounted are ballots that were dropped at secure drop boxes or cast at in-person vote centers Tuesday. Ballots that were postmarked by Tuesday have until April 16 to arrive; overseas ballots can be returned until April 20.

Dunbar and Bronson said they expect to face each other in a runoff for the office, which is technically nonpartisan.

Dunbar, who is a captain in the Alaska Army National Guard, ran as a Democrat against Republican U.S. Rep. Don Young in 2014. He supported the city’s COVID-19 response and voted several times to extend the city’s emergency declaration and the mayor’s special powers to enact emergency orders.

Bronson launched his campaign for mayor, saying he wanted to bring conservative leadership back to the mayor’s office. The former U.S. Air Force and commercial pilot has been critical of the city’s handling of the pandemic and its emergency orders. If elected, he has promised to revoke those orders, including the city’s mask mandate.

Anchorage’s current acting mayor, Austin Quinn-Davidson, did not seek election. She became mayor in October when the former mayor, Ethan Berkowitz, resigned after a sexting relationship was revealed between him and a former Anchorage television anchor.