George Martinez

George Martinez

Age: 46

Family: My wife Clara, son George and our little sister Tomasa.

Occupation: Director of Leadership and Youth Programs for the Alaska Humanities Forum (Leadership Anchorage)

Previous government experience or community involvement: Over the past 25 years I have served as an executive director of an international nonprofit organization, a small business owner, the Assistant Director of Intergovernmental Relations for the New York State Attorney General, a university professor, a Cultural Envoy for the Western Hemisphere appointed under the Bush and Obama administrations. In 2015, I was appointed by the mayor to serve as Anchorage’s Special Assistant to the Mayor for Economic Development, Education, Youth Development and Diversity. Read more about my track record at ( Today my family and I own a home on the East Side and we have two children in the school district. My wife is a small business owner and I am currently the director of leadership and youth programs for the Alaska Humanities Forum. I remain actively committed to civic service and have mentored dozens of emerging Alaskan leaders over the last 12 years. I sit on boards of several local organizations including Anchorage’s Promise (Kid’s Day), UAA’s Chancellor’s Advisory Board, and ASD’s Multicultural Education Advisory Committee. I am a founding member of the Anchorage Cops for Community’s advisory board, a co-founder of the civic group, We Are Anchorage, and the founder of the Anchorage Artist Cooperative. I am also the co-creator of the Turn Up The Vote nonpartisan democracy festival and a team member of the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation work led by the First Alaskans.

Highest level of education: Graduate School – Ph.D Program in Political Science (MEQ)

What is the latest book you’ve read? Or, what book do you recommend and why?: The Organic Globalizer: Hip Hop, Political Development and Movement Culture by Christopher Malone and George Martinez

COVID closures, cancelled civic and culture events and the decline of summer tourists have turned Anchorage’s downtown into “a ghost town.” How will you revitalize downtown Anchorage?

I have been directly working on the front lines of revitalizing downtown for several years. In 2014, I founded the Anchorage Artist Coop and forged partnerships with local businesses, Anchorage Downtown Partnership, the municipality and local artists to create placemaking opportunities that enhance destination tourism. We activated empty downtown storefronts, Town Square Park, Easy Park structures and trash can art. Today, the school district is involved with producing the art on the trash cans which has become a popular feature of downtown for visitors and our families alike. The more opportunities the people of Anchorage have to connect, enjoy and celebrate our city, the more our visitors will love it. During my time in the mayor’s office, I created an initiative aimed at keeping visitors here five hours longer and going three miles further from the downtown hotels, which will spread more money to small businesses in multiple commercial corridors. As a result of this concept, the Welcoming Anchorage Downtown Art Walk was created. I also spearheaded the Downtown Design District’s mayoral designation, which is now the home of the SEED Lab of the museum. In 2017, the mayor and the UAA chancellor signed a five-year integration agreement which wrote me into the agreement as the MOA point of action. One of the focus areas is increasing UAA’s downtown presence to enhance the tourist experience while connecting UAA sports and alumni with downtown bars and restaurants. I was also appointed to the preliminary board for Make Anchorage, which would add value to the destination experience of the city and help attract the independent tourist by amplifying the arts and culture sector. This would support enhancing the Alaska Native cultural experience for visitors and grow our seasonal festivals like Fur Rondy (Mushing District), Solstices and more.

Here are some of my platform action steps I am prepared to take beginning on day one of a Martinez administration:

Making Destination Anchorage – For Us and Our Visitors

A vibrant, safe, clean, colorful and cultural downtown for every resident and visitor to enjoy. Foster culturally relevant placemaking and strengthen the arts and culture sector to enhance the visitor experience. Bring regular and reliable public transportation service to the tourist and hotel loop. Focus on pedestrian and non-motorized vehicle safety. Enhance public art mapping programs to leverage the millions of dollars of art assets in new ways. Collaborate on innovative models for seasonal festivals and marketplaces throughout the municipality. Recognizing the arts, culture, and creative economies as a vital pillar of the city’s economic engine – Launch Make Anchorage. Commitment to the development of the East Downtown corridor.

Do you support a minimum wage of $15 for municipal workers? Why or why not?

Yes I do. The municipality has an opportunity to set the tone for supporting working families and entry-level workers in Anchorage by raising the minimum wage for our own workforce.

What ideas do you have to ensure that the make-up of the municipal workforce reflects the diversity of the Anchorage community?

First, if I get elected as the mayor it would break the glass ceiling from the top and encourage many more diverse voices to step up into public service. Anchorage boasts the top three most diverse high schools in the nation. We must harness that raw potential to build a strong recruitment pipeline from our school district to grow a more culturally responsive and representative workforce. We would also work with UAA to create a degree pathway for those recruits. Boards and commissions are another way to recruit diverse people into municipal service which can lead to different levels of integration, including employment opportunities. I am responsible for the complete overhaul of the boards and commissions process. Taking it from obsolete paper based application to a robust digital process that allows the mayor to track realtime progress.

With steep declines in revenue sharing from the state of Alaska, how will you support essential city services? Will this level of support be enough to attract future investment?

Raising and diversifying city revenues is an important component of maintaining a strong bond rating and healthy financial portfolio. I believe there are strong civil society partnerships to help address programmatic areas impacted by state budget cuts that have not been leveraged. I also know that we can find cost savings through improved operational alignments, shared service agreements and administrative streamlining that will help us maintain the level and quality of services we need to be a thriving community. With the sale of ML&P, the MOA is in a relatively stable position which is why I believe that now is the time to think about growth and preparing for national infrastructure resources to come into the state and city over the next 16 to 24 months of which we are well positioned to benefit from. Anchorage is also one of the most diverse cities in the country and with this diversity comes an inherent economic power. I’m focused on resetting the city’s economic engine through innovation, infrastructure, destination tourism and education. I am confident that we will attract future investments.

Do you have a commitment to incorporate and utilize renewable energy sources?

Yes. I would continue to integrate renewable energy sources into our building maintenance and retrofitting program while promoting public transportation, regional rail infrastructure, and upgrading the MOA fleet to electric/hybrid vehicles. By aligning the school district and university we can also grow the workforce necessary to support this direction that would put people back to work.

Anchorage has a shortage of housing at multiple income levels. What can you do to mitigate the problem and how will you influence housing development toward what the city needs?

We have to position Anchorage as ready to build – we need get to yes, responsibly and efficiently. I would be extremely proactive in incentivizing development (and redevelopment*) to increase mixed-use, mixed-income, senior friendly and affordable housing units to eliminate blight and foster more attractive, high-performing, land-conserving and durable development. I would also activate the federal Opportunity Zones to create master development corridors that drive new investments. Lastly, I would reorganize the Office of Economic and Community Development, streamlining the permitting and review processes and increasing uniformity of decisions to encourage confidence in investing.

The homeless crisis in Anchorage is persistent, disturbing and humanly tragic. How do you plan to help the municipality solve this crisis?

A Rapid Impact Plan that will transform our homeless situation:

Get people off the streets by activating a clinical transportation program for assisted living, supportive housing and shelter clients. Build paths to dignity and independence with a daily dignity jobs program with wrap-around services. Fixing data gaps to improve coordinated entry and resource tracking. Expand the independence plus scattered-site model of services with limits of 20 beds to increase accountability and improve outcomes. We could have 200 stable beds for less than the cost of current strategies. Ensure that all services are culturally responsive and trauma-informed. Support the Anchored Home initiative. Never pit community members against the unhoused through bad policy design and faulty implementation.

Anchorage is a university town with two institutions, one public and one private. What opportunities does this represent to the municipality?

I have 5 years of background working on the “university town” integration which represents a tremendous opportunity for the MOA on at least five fronts. 1) By increasing the universities’ downtown presence we can enhance the tourist experience while connecting sports and alumni with downtown bars and restaurants. 2) The location of both of the campuses drives strategic investment opportunities into the UMED Innovation District. 3) Leveraging the research support for municipal projects like UAA’s role in the development of the climate action plan. 4) Expanding experiential learning opportunities for students across multiple municipal departments (Mayor’s AmeriCorps Program). 5) Amplifying our city as a university town makes us more appealing to new industries looking relocate here.

Can the mayor influence the tone of community dialogue? How?

Yes absolutely! The most important job of the next mayor will be to end the toxic partisanship and reset civility. Effective leadership brings people together through authentic listening with empathy, clear work plans for collaboration, leaving room to disagree with dignity but still finding a way back to collective work. Too many political leaders are ready to point fingers, call opposition names and raise the temperature in the room. This is an error in judgment. As the only diplomat in the field I am the most qualified person to decrease discord and increase collaboration. Bi-partisan endorsements from diverse community leaders like former Mayor Rick Mystrom, Margo Bellamy, Malcolm and Cindy Roberts, Sheila Selkregg, Eleanor Andrews, Rev. Dr Alonzo Patterson, Tony Nakazawa, Elsa Sargento and Elizabeth Medicine Crow speak to my ability to bring people together to move Anchorage forward.

Local builders continually complain about delays in the municipal permitting process, and that Title 21 requirements make homes expensive. The complaints are old. Will you make changes?

Yes, I am open to pursuing the necessary changes to streamline processes to create consistency in getting to yes, responsibly and efficiently. I would be extremely proactive in incentivizing development (and redevelopment*) and reducing barriers for increase mixed-use, mixed-income, senior-friendly and affordable housing units to eliminate blight and foster more attractive, high-performing, land-conserving, and durable development.