This Q&A is part of a broader candidate survey by the Anchorage Daily News. View the full survey here.
Gretchen Wehmhoff | District: 2 | Age: 63 | Occupation: Educator and newspaper publisher | teamgretchen.com
What is the most important problem facing Anchorage? How would you address it?
We are recovering from the challenges of the pandemic, which came close behind a serious earthquake. Residents are trying to get back to normal in a climate of anger, mistrust and impatience. We need to encourage and facilitate conversations with people who are looking at things from different perspectives. We can’t get to solutions without getting together to solve them.
Rate Dave Bronson’s performance as mayor. Explain, with specific examples.
While the mayor may have run on what he believed to be true and worthy intentions, his lack of legislative understanding and inability to follow understood policies and collaborative behavior has impeded his ability to build trust and lead with transparency and humility.
The past two years have been marked by increased civic discord in Anchorage. How would you improve the quality of civic discourse in the city?
We have to engage in conversations with people whose views differ from ours. It will take all members of our Assembly and administration to embrace open conversations. The tough part of this will be building trust. I know I’m ready to have those conversations.
What’s your vision for improving and diversifying Anchorage’s economy?
It’s important to evaluate why people are not returning to work. With the omicron variant infecting thousands a day, businesses, school, hospitals and public safety entities were working short-handed. Now we have to determine if child care, concern for family members or relocation has impacted return to work. It’s not just an Anchorage issue. Tourism businesses around the state are struggling to hire seasonal workers. We need to make sure we have affordable housing, substantial child care and effective public transportation.
What do you see as the most effective strategies to address homelessness in Anchorage going forward?
Finding housing and immediate health care for our homeless population is imperative. When people have basic needs met, they will see themselves as valued and capable. We need to help them get on with their lives. We need more immediate services for mental health and addiction