Signs of strong turnout for Tuesday’s hotly-contested mayoral runoff in Anchorage

Two white men pictured side by side
Former Air Force and commercial pilot Dave Bronson (left) and Assemblymember and Alaska Army National Guard Captain Forrest Dunbar pictured in April, 2021 (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)

Anchorage residents are choosing the city’s next mayor on Tuesday and turnout for the hotly-contested runoff election already appears high.

As of Friday the municipal Elections Center had already received 61,525 ballots. That’s 3,563 more than had been received by general election day last month. About 75,000 people voted in the general election.

The runoff has been a contentious race so far, as candidates Dave Bronson and Forrest Dunbar try to amass support in a deeply divided city. Bronson calls Dunbar a “radical leftist” and is critical of the pandemic health measures Dunbar supported as an Assembly member. Dunbar says Bronson is connected to the “fringe elements” of the political spectrum and has called Bronson out for spreading misinformation about the coronavirus. 

RELATED: Still deciding between Bronson and Dunbar? Here’s where they come down on major issues.

The political division has been playing out in the community as well. Assembly meetings have become increasingly tense as residents lob personal attacks against members, including Dunbar. Gov. Mike Dunleavy and Sen. Dan Sullivan offered their endorsements for Bronson last week. A Sunday sermon at Anchorage Baptist Temple, where Bronson is a member, railed against Dunbar. And after the president of public employees union Local 71 publicly endorsed Bronson on a campaign mailer, the union sent a scathing open letter to the Bronson campaign clarifying that it does not endorse him. The letter referenced Bronson’s plans to cut from every department of government except police, and said that the union president’s actions were unauthorized and invalid. 

Alaska Survey Research polling from April shows the race to be extremely tight, with voters nearly split and only a small percentage undecided.

Both candidates are scrambling to push as many residents as they can to the polls.

Ballots must be postmarked or returned to a ballot dropbox by 8 p.m. on Tuesday. If you are in line at a Vote Center or dropbox by 8 p.m. you are still allowed to vote. Results will start to come in around 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, though they won’t be finalized until May 25. 

Kavitha George is Alaska Public Media’s climate change reporter. Reach her at Read more about Kavitha here.

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