In his final days as Anchorage mayor, Bronson says he’s focused on a smooth transition

Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson at the Alaska Public Media studio on June 18, 2024. (Adam Nicely/Alaska Public Media)

Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson was elected three years ago on a wave of unrest over pandemic-related shutdowns and scandal at City Hall.

Now, he’s preparing to vacate the city’s top job after losing his reelection bid to former Assembly chair Suzanne LaFrance, who will take office July 1 as the first woman elected mayor.

Bronson said he has no immediate political plans after he leaves office, and is focused on making sure the transition is as smooth as possible. 

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Dave Bronson: At various levels we’re speaking. Their new municipal management met with ours [Tuesday], with Kent Kohlhase. We’re meeting, you know, at parallel levels. I’ve instructed my team to cooperate completely, to make the transition absolutely as smooth as possible, because that’s what’s best for the city.

Wesley Early: Have you had a chance to talk with Mayor-elect LaFrance in a more official capacity than the concession? 

DB: No, not since the concession because the teams do all the work. Suzanne and I kind of set the tone, and then the teams execute together. 

WE: So as you transition out of office, what are you proudest of most in your term as mayor?

DB: Well, I think we turned the corner on a few things, you know. Coming out of COVID was was a challenge and then getting the city kind of restarted, that was a big part of it. There was always challenges, there always is at executive levels of business or government or military. And so we stimulated business development, investment downtown. Block 41 is a big project, a couple hundred million dollars. Block 96, we brought that to fruition in a partnership with [Anchorage Community Development Authority]. Of course, the homeless issue has always been a challenge. We addressed that, spent a lot of time on that. And I spend a lot of time on that personally. But we made some real improvements. We kind of formalized the cold weather sheltering process. 

One of our big challenges has always been, and going forward for a while it will be, that’s the building of the homes, the places to live that people need. We brought on… I signed a modified methane gas agreement last year, which brings on 1,100 new lots in the Eagle River area and at Potter Reserve West development. That’s a big thing, because in coordination with what Senator Sullivan has been working on, we just heard about it this morning, roughly $770 million for development for bringing the new military operations up here, to include housing.

WE: So do you have any regrets? Or are there things you look back at and think you wish you would have done a little differently in your time as mayor?

DB: You know, early on, it was some real challenges. We came in and we were short on people. A lot of people left or were not retained. So I think I made some mistakes on, you know, some folks that I hired. You know, a couple, three. I would do that over certainly. But we found our footing and we got our legs under us in about a year. And we started moving forward. Kent Kohlhase came on board as municipal manager. That was a very big improvement for us in that he brought so much municipal experience with him. Very stabilizing influence 

WE: As an Anchorage resident, what are you hoping comes out of a LaFrance administration? Where do you think she should focus?

DB: Well, I think that’s for her to decide. I want her to be successful because the city needs to be successful going forward. I’m very much encouraged by the future of the city. We’re starting… we hope that the Supreme Court will give us some latitude on how to deal with homelessness because that’s a big challenge. It is for every city in the country. But the amicus brief that we signed in the Grants Pass case, I think is going to give us… and we should hear something within a couple of weeks and then we can move forward, Mayor LaFrance can move forward and that’ll provide her a lot of latitude on on working that challenge.

a portrait of a man outside

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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