Attorney Anne Helzer was appointed to lead the Municipality of Anchorage’s legal department in February as it juggled multiple high-profile legal fights from the Anchorage Assembly and former employees.
Helzer is Mayor Dave Bronson’s fourth pick for the position, in a cabinet that’s had an alarming amount of turnover since his tenure began in 2021. For example, he’s on his fifth chief of staff, third library director, third health department director and second municipal manager. Several executives in these roles remain unconfirmed.
Assembly members asked Helzer how she saw her role, given the friction between the Assembly and the mayor. Helzer said was well aware of the tension. She said she had never met the mayor before the job came up, and had only previously encountered some Assembly members in passing.
“So I come totally fresh from any sort of past experience with the mayor or with any of the Assembly members,” she said.
She also made a promise.
“I commit to you, the Assembly, that it is my understanding that I represent the entire city of Anchorage and the Assembly and the administration,” Helzer said. “I have no agenda. I have no alliances. I am here to provide the best possible legal representation for the entire city and that certainly includes the Assembly.”
Assembly member Austin Quinn-Davidson, who is also an attorney, asked Helzer why she would forgo other career opportunities for this one, especially with allegations of illegal and unethical behavior in the mayor’s office.
“Either I could stand and continue to watch all the things that were in the news, or I could decide to do something about it,” Helzer said.
“So if things got to a point where I would have to make a tough decision, such as to resign because somebody was asking me to do something uncomfortable, if that situation occurred, I have no problem,” she said. “I go right back to what I was doing.”
Helzer is a former president of the Anchorage Bar Association, and former chair of the Alaska Public Offices Commission, appointed in 2017 by then-Gov. Bill Walker. The commission writes campaign finance regulations and adjudicates violations.
Helzer said she will be a fair, reasonable, ethical and caring attorney for the city.
The municipal attorney’s office has an annual operating budget of about $8.6 million with 46 full-time employees.