Alaska Public Media invited all of the 2018 Anchorage mayoral candidates to participate in an in-studio interview as well as a written questionnaire. Each candidate was offered the exact same questions. Candidate Matthew Mendonsa’s questionnaire submission is below.
What is the biggest challenge confronting Anchorage?
The biggest issue on everyone’s mind in this election is Crime. Federal statistics show
an increase in crime nationwide, however, Anchorage is near the top of the list. This is
the direct fault of a failure in our legislatures ability to govern. In an attempt to cut down
on the cost of incarceration they have given our courts the instructions to cut back on
criminals sent to jail. They call it the New Merit Based Bail System. First time offenders
in non violent crimes are released with a court date to return and no bail. If the offender
commits other crimes while out on this system, he is still considered a first time offender
because he has not been tried yet on previous offences. The complete stupidity and
lunacy of this law is being felt by all of us in increased crime. Federal statistics look at
how many arrests our police make. The problem is many of our officers are arresting the
same person for the same crime sometimes twice in one day. This must stop.
What is your specific policy solution to that problem?
How we deal with the crime problem is a tough answer. What can you do when the state
ties your hands behind your back ? We now have the most officers on the street than in
any year before and even more still in training. I’d like to suggest if I was mayor, to tell
my officers to take the gloves off when dealing with these repeat without bail offenders.
But then we don’t want our police force becoming bullies either, not to mention I’d be
dealing with the ACLU on a daily basis. So maybe we just have to suffer through these
times ,keep on doing what we have been doing and hopefully our legislature will take
notice and do something. What we need is a larger jail. But that costs a lot and has to be
run by the state. The same state causing all the problems to date.
How will you vote on Ballot Measure One, and why?
I am opposed to Ballot Measure One. I believe that it is making a problem where no
problem exists to the point of a new law. If passed , I believe the first case brought
against someone will be found unconstitutional. We do not discriminate in Anchorage, so
why start now. I also support APD’s opinion that this law if passed is unenforceable.
Do you think the proposed sale of Municipal Light and Power to Chugach Electric is a good thing for the city? Why or why not?
For as long as I have been in Alaska and many years prior the city has been trying to get
out of the utility business. It only makes sense that the entire city be on the same grid. I
am in favor of the proposition. But the proposition is only asking voters to approve going
forward with negotiations. The sale is not a done deal. Now ,many people are wondering
why we don’t need a super majority or a 60% to pass the proposition. We must look to
Alaska’s Constitution where it clearly states that any amendment to any charter must be
put to a vote by the people and can pass on a simple majority or 50% of the vote.
How should Anchorage improve its local economy?
Whenever I get this question , I think, wait a moment. We candidates are running for the
Mayor of the Municipality, not just Anchorage. So when I look to improve the local
economy, I am looking municipality wide. I would like to give businesses an incentive to
build not just in Anchorage but along the Glenn Hwy corridor all the way to Eklutna as
well as the Seward Hwy corridor to Girdwood. With increased traffic patrols on the
Seward Hwy to Ingram Creek and with that road being one of the most scenic in all of
America, it only makes good sense to increase tourist as well as resident services along
Are you satisfied with how the state-licensed cannabis businesses in Anchorage are regulated?
I think the state licensed cannabis business is being well regulated in Anchorage and
returns in the form of taxes are rolling into our city coffers. I would like to see some plan
for on-sight usage. People can go to bars and drink alcohol so why not have on-sight
consumption for cannabis as well. Driving afterwards would be the same as driving after
drinking. Clubs would be the same as bars, 21 and older. These businesses bring in
millions in tax revenue and turning that money away would be unwise.
What proposals do you have for addressing homelessness in Anchorage?
The homeless problem in Anchorage is overwhelming our current services. The brother
Francis shelter fills up quickly and only allows a 30 day stay until one is literally thrown
out in the cold. The coldest parts of our winter are usually three months long but winter
can last almost six months. We don’t need people freezing to death on our streets. I
propose that the city leases a large warehouse. Provide heating ,cots, sanitary facilities,
some sort of security to discourage drug and alcohol abuse, and volunteers to help find
jobs and more permanent housing. Maximum stay would be increased to 60 days
allowing for an offset for times at the Brother Francis shelter.
How would you like to see the Anchorage Police Department deploy its limited resources to most effectively handle crime?
I would like to see APD put more officers into the traffic enforcement division. I would
also like to see 2 officers in each car. Officers would also walk beats in communities
getting more involved with the public than they would staying in their cars. Traffic
enforcement really needs to be stepped up. We need to start enforcing traffic laws more
to better provide for public safety. Red light runners need to get those 10 point tickets or
lose their driving privileges. People tend to think it is their right to drive. It is not. It is a
privilege that should be reserved for those following all traffic laws.
What do you think is the best thing about living in Anchorage?
I think the best thing about living in Anchorage other than the gorgeous views 24/7 is
that no matter how big we get we still can have that small town feel.