Former state legislator Chris Tuck running for Anchorage mayor on platform of ‘building relationships’

Former Alaska Representative Chris Tuck is one of ten candidates running for Anchorage Mayor in 2024. (Matt Faubion/Alaska Public Media)

Chris Tuck is one of 10 candidates running for Anchorage mayor.

The election is April 2, with ballots mailed out March 12. 

Tuck represented District 23 (Anchorage – Taku) in the Alaska Legislature for 14 years. He says his experience in building relationships makes him the best candidate for Anchorage mayor.

Listen to the full interview here:

Alaska Public Media interviewed the four major candidates for Anchorage mayor. The candidates had to have raised at least $10,000, had at least 15 donors and a campaign website. For more, listen to our interviews with Mayor Dave Bronson, Suzanne LaFrance and Bill Popp.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

Wesley Early: You served in the state House for 13 years serving as minority leader for… (Tuck held up a one and a four with his hands) 14 years, serving as minority leader for a time. How does that experience prepare you for being mayor? 

Chris Tuck: Well, one of the things that it taught me is you cannot get anything done without building relationships. That’s the first thing. And to build relationships, you have to treat people with respect. You need to know to respect their aspirations, respect their belief systems and respect the people that they represent. And also, more importantly, you have to respect the institution. And I think that that’s really what’s needed right now for Anchorage is more respect. More respect for the public, more respect for our institutions.

WE: So, the other major candidates in this race have been heavily involved in on the ground and current issues for the past few years, whether it’s as mayor, on the assembly or as head of the AEDC. Your experience was more on the statewide stage as a legislator in Juneau. Do you feel you’re as attuned to the major issues facing the city, and how so?

CT: Well, I do represent a big district, the Dimond business district. More car dealers, more manufacturing, more bottling plants — I got Coca-Cola, 7-Up and Pepsi-Cola. I have more Mexican restaurants in that area, and more retail. So I do have a strong sense of what businesses are feeling. But not only that, but I’ve been doing my morning constituent coffees, been doing it now for 15 years. Because even though I’m no longer serving, people ask me if I still do my morning constituent coffees, and that’s how I know. The people are my eyes and years of what’s happening out there, and that’s how I keep accountable. But that’s how I really know what’s going on in Anchorage.

WE: And what would you say are some of those big issues? 

CT: Well, of course, homelessness, public safety is number one. It’s affecting our neighborhoods, it’s affecting our communities and it’s affecting our downtown. And the heart of any city is your downtown. And right now you can barely feel a pulse. People don’t want to spend time Downtown because of the population, homeless population that we have out there. We can’t even keep a coffee shop opened up Downtown, because there’s too much retail theft that’s happening and too much public intoxication and public drug use.

WE: So the average home price in Anchorage surged to about $481,000 last year and buying a home remains difficult for many residents. How would your administration make housing more available and affordable?

CT: Well, what’s interesting is that we have so many people leaving Anchorage because we don’t have enough job opportunities or economic opportunities or even educational opportunities. And so how is it that we have a declining population but we’re having an increased problem in finding rents and finding homes? While a lot of it has to do with the tourism industry. We’re going to have another record year in tourism. So a lot of these homes that normally would be available for people to live in are actually being utilized for short-term rentals. So we need to build hotels and motels to accommodate more of our tourism industry so we have available space for residents who live here.

WE: And touching on that a little bit, you mentioned that the number of people leaving Anchorage continues to exceed the number of people moving here. How would you make the city inviting to newcomers while also keeping the people we have here?

CT: Well, we’ve got to have a growing healthy economy. And a key to a growing healthy economy is a strong education system. It starts there. And as our economy grows, you want to make sure that all communities can participate in that and benefit from that. We want to make sure that we have an economy that’s not just for a select few, but for everybody.

WE: It strikes me that a lot of the education topics are covered by the school board and the superintendent. I guess, as mayor, what can you really do to foster education? 

CT: Well, advocate and set the stage, and more importantly, get resources from the state of Alaska into our communities. The base student allocation is a big debate that’s going on now in Juneau, and I’m very proud that one of the things I did leaving Juneau was pass the Alaska Reads Act, and there’s a pre-K component to that. And fortunately, the Anchorage School District has taken advantage of that. And so now we have a base student allocation part of the foundation formula for pre-K that Anchorage will be able to take part of. So there’s more that we can do in our community. And of course, we veto or don’t veto… the mayor vetoes or doesn’t veto the school budget.

WE: So you mentioned homelessness earlier. What is one specific step you would take if elected to address homelessness in Anchorage?

CT: Well, one of the things that we’re missing is we’re missing drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers. When somebody ends up in the back of a cop car or ends up in an ambulance or goes to their family and says, “I need help,” you have a small window of opportunity of getting them help. If you don’t get them help right away, they’re gonna be jonesing for the next fix, and they’re going to commit whatever crimes it takes to get their next fix. Another thing we’re going to do is, I’m going to make sure that we go tough on crime, tough on those that are drug dealers. The fentanyl dealers, the opioids, I mean, you name it. And that’s what’s causing people to go homeless in the first place. And it’s also what’s keeping people from recovery, out of being homeless. 

WE: And you know, over the past three years during Mayor Bronson’s administration, there’ve been a lot of different efforts to address homelessness. Are there any of those ideas that you liked? Are there any things you would have done a little differently? 

CT: Well, we definitely need to have navigation centers, because just like we have individualized education plans for students who are struggling, we need to have individualized living plans for those who are trying to get back on their feet. As many as there are homeless people out there, there’s a story behind that. There’s not a one solution-fits-all scenario. We’ve got to make sure that we make them successful, and the best way to do it is to accommodate what their needs are.

WE: So, much of your campaign has been centered on bringing together diverse groups. With the city facing a pretty stark political divide at times, how would you go about creating consensus in city government?

CT: Well, the first thing is you got to have active listening, and productive dialogue. And we’ve got to learn from one another. Sure, we can have some disagreements. But understanding why we have those disagreements is the first step in really working together. The art of politics isn’t necessarily the art of compromise. It is the art of possibility. And I believe in the potential of people working together. That is power. Together, we are smarter. Together we are stronger. And together, we can make Anchorage a place that we all can be proud of.

WE: Well, with two years in a row of record snowfall, snow plowing has been a hot topic for Anchorage residents. You certainly took advantage of that in some of your campaigning. What do you think is the best way to ensure that roads are plowed quickly and effectively?

CT: We got to make sure that we have access right away. One of the key components of that is making sure that our People Mover routes are plowed at least, because if somebody can’t make it out of their driveway or their neighborhood with your vehicle, at least they can walk to a bus stop and get to work. And we cannot allow this city of ours to be shut down because of a winter snowstorm. We’re an Arctic city, there’s no excuse for it.

WE: And we’ve gotten a little extra time; you got through my questions quickly. So I have another question about retaining the workforce. You know, we’ve seen a lot of city employees leaving the workforce and there are a lot of places, particularly the municipal attorney’s office was really short, there have been building code officials that have been short. How do you make the city of Anchorage an attractive place to work?

CT: Well, fortunately, my mom was a public employee, and she was able to raise two boys on her own with no child support. I don’t know how families do it today. And we need to make sure that we take care of our employees. I know as an electrical contractor that I can’t take care of the customers unless I take care of my employees first. That’s the same thing with public service. You got to take care of your employees. You got to make it a place where they can live comfortably, have decent retirement so they can retire with dignity without being a burden on society and have affordable health care. Those are the key components of a healthy environment for your employees. In addition, we got to make sure that we have child care facilities for employees. But we have people that have a heart for public service,. We need to utilize that, we need to inspire them and we need to let them know how important their role is in serving Anchorage. 

WE: You mentioned a child care center. How would that work, child care centers for city employees? 

CT: Well, we look at the example that Credit Union 1 has for their employees, but we have a lot of school district facilities that we can be utilizing. But basically, we need to have economies of scale. If we start with the municipal employees first and partner up with different businesses who also want to have some sort of child care services for their employees, I believe that we can come together with the private-public partnerships and make that happen. I’ve been very fortunate when my son was growing up that we had Campfire, and that’s an example of the private-public partnerships. They were using the facilities to drop off my son early in the morning. He had child care services until school started and then he had child care service again, and I was able to come by and pick him up after work.

WE: Alright, well like I said, we are well ahead of schedule. But I’m curious, can you give listeners your pitch as to why they should elect you? What makes you different from the other candidates running?

CT: Well, I’ve been very fortunate to be put in leadership positions in all my public service. I was the minority leader, and as a minority leader, we had what we call a three-quarter vote to get into the constitutional budget reserve, which forced the majorities to have to work with us in creating a budget that we can all be proud of. And we stood up for Medicaid expansion, for university budgets, for our public education, for public broadcasting, all those things that really makes our community a happier place to be. And we were successful in that. That was a $4.5 billion budget at that time. 

And then through treating people with respect and building those relationships, and then also maintaining my own reputation, I was able to pull a group of people together to form a new majority. And that was made up of Alaska Independents, Alaska Republicans, and Alaska Democrats all pulling together to do what’s best for Alaska. And I was able to help maintain that coalition for the last three terms that I served in office, the last six years. Unfortunately, it fell apart after I left. I feel like I owe Alaska a big apology for no longer serving in the Legislature. But my little 8-year-old girl wants Daddy back at home right now. And now that I’m back home, and I see all the problems that Anchorage has, I can’t let those skills and abilities go to waste. And I want to be able to take what I’ve learned in all my life,  my professional life and my public life, of bringing people together, solving problems and really set in a direction for all of us to believe in. That’s what Anchorage needs right now. We need everybody coming together. We need more participation, not less participation, if we’re going to solve the problems that we have facing us today.

WE: And before we wrap up with a little bit of time left, is there anything I didn’t ask about, any topic that you’d want to highlight how you would address it as mayor?

CT: Well, we have a lot of potential. I mean, two things I really appreciate about Anchorage is its people and the potential that we have. I graduated from Dimond High in the class of ‘84 and when I graduated, we had all sorts of opportunities here. You can tell how your city is doing based on the homeless population and participation in all sorts of activities that really makes life more enriching. The Fur Rondy… I can remember the Fur Rondy, we had hot air balloons, we had chess clubs, we had car races, we had so many booming activities that were going around Fur Rondy, and it seems like it’s all dwindled down to just a few events. You know we have the, of course, the running of the reindeer, the sled dog races and the carnivals. We still have the Miners and Trappers Ball and everything else, but we still don’t have the activity. So you can see how your city is doing based on how many people participate in the activities that’s out there for them.

Wesley Early covers Anchorage life and city politics for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at and follow him on X at @wesley_early. Read more about Wesley here.

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