A new mayor took the reins of Alaska’s largest city on Thursday. Dave Bronson was officially sworn in at a breakfast ceremony at the Marriott Hotel in Anchorage.
In a speech he said that he hoped to tackle issues like homelessness, food insecurity, and economic revitalization after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We want to see an Anchorage with new cranes in the sky, new investment pouring into our community, new projects breaking ground and new residents and industries arriving to call Anchorage home,” said Bronson.
The mayor immediately signed four directives on city operations, but they will have little immediate impact.
One directive prohibits the city from requiring employees to be vaccinated and declares that masks are optional in city buildings. Masks have been optional in city buildings since May, when the Assembly lifted the city’s mask mandate. They have been recommended for unvaccinated employees.
Another declares Anchorage a “Second Amendment Sanctuary”, and pledges that no city funds will be used to “restrict Second Amendment rights.” Bronson said that the directive comes after speaking with police officers who said they feared for their safety should they be asked to take peoples’ guns. No such program has been approved by the city, state or federal governments. The police department is already banned from using its assets to enact any federal regulation restricting gun ownership under a state law, so the directive won’t change the police department’s current operations.
The mayor also created a task force for economic revitalization and diversification. It will be chaired by the director of the Anchorage Community Development Authority, Mike Robbins, with members selected by the mayor. It will make reports to the mayor every 100 days on how to create a “vibrant local economy.”
A second task force will look for ways to reduce redundancies in the city’s operation, including through working with the Anchorage School District. The district currently operates independently from the city, and the task force would look for ways to combine services such as “building maintenance, project management and engineering, snow plowing, procurement, communications and information technology, and library services.” The directive says that the city has already tried to review those operations over the past 30 years, but “very few initiatives have been implemented.”
Proceeds from the event were donated to Bean’s Cafe, the city’s largest soup kitchen. An estimated 500 people attended, including a U.S. Senator, the lieutenant governor, and other elected officials.
There will be a public ceremonial swearing in at the Park Strip from 5 pm to 9 pm. There will be music from the country band Sixwire and other entertainment. The event is free and was paid for with private donations.
Outgoing Mayor Austin-Quinn Davidson returned to the Anchorage Assembly, where she represents West Anchorage.
This story has been corrected to say Austin Quinn-Davidson represents West Anchorage, not Midtown.