Bill Popp enters Anchorage mayoral race

A man in a gray suit talks into a microphone
Bill Popp, former head of the Anchorage Economic Development Corp., announces his candidacy for mayor of Anchorage at the Highliner Hotel downtown on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023. (Matt Faubion/Alaska Public Media)

Bill Popp announced Tuesday that he is running for Anchorage mayor in the 2024 city election.

He’s the fourth major candidate to enter the race, joining incumbent Mayor Dave Bronson, former Anchorage Assembly Chair Suzanne LaFrance and former state Rep. Chris Tuck.

Popp just left his role as longtime head of the Anchorage Economic Development Corp., a private nonprofit that studies and promotes the city’s economy. He formerly served on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly. 

Popp is also the former chair of Alaska Public Media’s Board of Directors. He left the board in August. 

He’s running for mayor under the slogan, “Let’s recapture our vision.” 

At a campaign kickoff event Tuesday, he said Anchorage has lost its way, but he is positioned well to be a mayor who is also the city’s “salesperson in chief.” He said he can help recapture a vision of what the city can be.

“We are more about dealing with issues and problems in the now,” he said, “as opposed to thinking about tomorrow, thinking about next year, thinking about five years from now.” 

Popp highlighted a belief that nonpartisanship will help heal Anchorage. 

“We’ve got to get our government in a condition where it is delivering the services that we expect in the way that we expect them and to become boring again,” he said. “We want to fix the broken relationship between the mayor’s office and the Assembly. We want to fix the broken relationship between city government and the community, and I think we’ve got the vision to get that done.” 

Popp is registered as an undeclared voter. Bronson is a Republican, Tuck is a Democrat and LaFrance is registered nonpartisan. All qualifying candidates in Anchorage’s municipal elections appear on the ballot together, regardless of their party status.

Political consultant Jim Lottsfeldt said having a fourth credible candidate doesn’t change much about the dynamics of the race. 

“I think this race is 100% on, ‘Shall we or shall we not have three more years of Dave Bronson?’” he said. 

He said more candidates running for the political center could cause hand wringing among Bronson opponents, but he doesn’t think any candidate will be able to capture the 45% of the vote needed to win outright in April. That would likely mean Bronson and one of the challengers would go on to a runoff election.

“Then whoever that candidate is, as long as they can sort of make a cogent argument for leadership, you know, they’d probably win 60-40,” Lottsfeldt said. 

Forrest Dunbar is one of the hand wringers. He’s a former mayoral candidate who lost to Bronson, a former Anchorage Assembly member and a current state senator. He’s backing Suzanne LaFrance, and shared his take about Popp entering the race on X, formerly known as Twitter. 

Lottsfeldt said he personally supports LaFrance, but isn’t working for any of the campaigns. 

He did imagine a scenario with a path for Bronson to win reelection. If the challengers sling mud at each other and Bronson pulls off an extraordinary accomplishment by April – like solving homelessness. Lottsfeldt doesn’t think that’s likely. 

CorrectionAn earlier version of this story misidentified Forrest Dunbar as a state representative. He’s a state senator. 

Jeremy Hsieh covers Anchorage with an emphasis on housing, homelessness, infrastructure and development. Reach him at or 907-550-8428. Read more about Jeremy here.

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