Suzanne LaFrance sworn in as first woman elected Anchorage mayor

A woman in a blue suit shakes hands with people.
Anchorage Mayor Suzanne LaFrance shakes hands with the crowd at her inauguration in Town Square Park on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Matt Faubion/Alaska Public Media)

Hundreds of people flocked to Anchorage’s Town Square Park Monday to watch Suzanne LaFrance’s inauguration, where she officially became the first woman elected to lead Alaska’s largest city. 

LaFrance is not the first woman to serve as Anchorage mayor. That distinction belongs to Austin Quinn-Davidson, who the Assembly picked as acting mayor back in 2020 after Ethan Berkowitz resigned

Quinn-Davidson beamed Monday as she introduced LaFrance and talked about their work together. She said the two have had to navigate a world “dominated by male leaders and approaches.”

“I’ve watched Suzanne lead in her own way,” Quinn-Davidson said. “Listen instead of talk, focus on people and their needs as she navigates challenges, return hateful words with patience and graciousness and be willing to put herself on the line for what is right.”

Following a six-year stint as an Anchorage Assembly member, with two years as chair, and a year of campaigning, LaFrance officially became mayor at 7:30 a.m. Monday. She was ceremonially sworn in by Jane Angvik, a longtime public servant who helped draft the city’s charter. 

A woman hugs her mother at a podium.
Anchorage Mayor Suzanne LaFrance (right) hugs her mother, Danielle, after being sworn into office at Town Square Park in Anchorage on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Matt Faubion/Alaska Public Media)

During her remarks, LaFrance highlighted her message of good government, transparency and accountability. She opened by talking about her childhood playing team sports like hockey and soccer, calling teamwork “essential” to who she is.

“Today isn’t about one single person,” LaFrance said. “Today’s about this special place we call home and what we’re going to do together to fix it up and make it the place we all know it can be.”

As LaFrance spoke, a group of roughly a dozen protesters stood nearby, chanting through a megaphone: “release the footage now” and “civilian oversight now.”

During her remarks, LaFrance acknowledged the protesters, saying, “I want to recognize the people here who are practicing their First Amendment rights.” The crowd applauded.

A woman speaking at a podium.
Anchorage Mayor Suzanne LaFrance talks to a crowd of hundreds during her inauguration ceremony at Town Square Park in Anchorage on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Matt Faubion/Alaska Public Media)

The organization behind the protest, the Party for Socialism and Liberation – Anchorage, recently launched a campaign to establish an independent police review board for the city. 

In the last two months, a string of Anchorage police shootings left three people dead. Advocates have pushed for the release of the officers’ body camera footage. But former Acting Chief Bianca Cross refused, saying it will be available after investigations are complete. 

LaFrance said her incoming municipal attorney Eva Gardner and the new police chief Sean Case are working to increase police accountability.

“They are already digging into issues and working on draft policies to ensure clear communication and build trust between APD and the community,” LaFrance said.

In an interview after her remarks, LaFrance said also top of mind is “stabilizing the municipality.”

“Making sure that we’ve got a handle on the finances, and that we’ve got the tools in place to staff up because we know we’ve got a lot of vacancies,” LaFrance said. “And that impacts the delivery of services to residents.”

She also highlighted Anchorage’s housing crunch as a problem to solve, as well as how to support the city’s homeless population. 

As for being the first woman elected to be Anchorage mayor, LaFrance said she’s proud and grateful for the women who made strides before her.

The Lepquinm Gumilgit Gagoadim Ts’msyen Dancers
The Lepquinm Gumilgit Gagoadim Ts’msyen Dancers perform a closing dance at Anchorage Mayor Suzanne LaFrance’s swearing-in ceremony on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Matt Faubion/Alaska Public Media)
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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