Mayoral race remarkably wide open

In last week’s Hoi Polloi, I gave brief introductions to the first half of the candidates on the ballot for Anchorage Mayor. All walks of life are represented in this years election; from rock solid candidates like acting mayor Matt Claman and ex-cop Paul Honeman to the absolutely absurd, such as the sexist and slightly creepy Paul Kendall, who called soup kitchen patrons “too lazy to work, too scared to steal,” and the outright implausible space-faring, free electricity aspirations of Jacob Seth Kern. This week, I’d like to round out the ballot by presenting the second half of the candidates for Anchorage Mayor.

Eric Croft
Croft seems favored at this point to draw enough votes to be the candidate that faces Dan Sullivan in a run-off election. Don’t let these predictions influence your vote, however, because at this rate, it’s really anyone’s race to come in second. Croft also touts a universally applicable website, www.ericcroft.com, and is the first candidate on the ballot to have registered e-mail at his own domain name. Who are you talking to at ericcroft.com? [email protected], of course. Croft also has a MySpace page, further stretching the application of social networking.

Billy Ray Powers
Powers lives in the Airport Heights area of Anchorage, and if his name sounds vaguely familiar, it should. Powers owes the city of Anchorage over $100,000 in fines for land use violations, the most notorious of which is the yearly “Snowzilla” that the Powers family constructs. As far as a symbol of rebellion, “Snowzilla” is pretty conspicuous, and I think it’s fair to say that Powers is ready to take a firm stand for Anchorage residents’ right to build two-story tall snowmen wherever the hell they want.

Walt Monegan
Monegan, of Eagle River, is perhaps the second most recognizable name in the entire field. Monegan was a respected public safety official, and showed second in some preliminary polling as well. Monegan was selected by Palin to be Alaska’s Public Safety Commissioner, but was later fired, prompting investigation into the “Troopergate” scandal. Monegan was offered a job as director of the state’s?Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, but declined, likely to establish his character for possible future political endeavors such as this. Monegan seems to have a fairly solid centrist platform, and is most likely at this point to draw my vote.

Sheila Selkregg
Selkregg lives in the Scenic Foothills area of Anchorage, and prides herself on not being a lawyer, which sets her apart from other progressives like acting mayor Claman and hopeful Croft. It’s a good start, if you ask me. Selkregg’s focus is on urban planning and community building, both of which the random sprawl of Anchorage could use quite a bit of. Also in her favor, she is most decidedly not Dan Sullivan.

Larry Shooshanian
Shooshanian, a resident of the Mountain View area, has – hands down – one of the most fun names of the race to say out loud. Shooshanian’s unique name is eclipsed only by the sheer cool factor of “Joker” Lupo and the hilarity of Merica Hlatcu. Shooshanion, while not an obvious choice, has leadership experience as the president of the 35 Plus Singles Club, Inc. The Municipal list of certified candidates lists a web site for Shooshanian as “To be Announced.” You had better believe it’s going to be epic, and when it’s ready, it’ll be announced.

Dan Sullivan
Sullivan, of the Turnagain area, looks so uncomfortable smiling on his campaign signs that I wonder if it hurts. Unfortunately, he has the cash and the name recognition to bring this race home handily. Regardless of how qualified Sullivan may be, as a three-time assemblyman, I think we all realize that a large part of his draw is owed to his father, George Sullivan. Due to my rather strong anti-entitlement leanings, I find it extremely difficult to foster any support for Sullivan whatsoever. However, he has the most money, the most name recognition and a largely unified conservative base. The more liberal vote will be haphazardly spread across the remaining field of candidates. Still, the general consensus is that Sullivan will fail to draw the 45 percent needed to avoid a runoff, and the race for Sullivan’s opponent is still too close to call.

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Phil Isley
The more I read about Isley, the more I like his style. Isley, an avid motorcyclist and friend of “Joker” Lupo, was kind enough to provide Lupo space on his own web site, www.philisley.us, to express his views on tax, because that “is what friends do for friends.” Lupo, an Alaska National Guard retiree, is very clear and concise on his site regarding his own ideas and his opinions of the other candidates, acknowledging those he believes to have good ideas or intentions. Concerning Jacob Kern’s proposal to build a machine that makes electricity from air, Isley says “I think I would want to see a prototype prior to voting for him.”

Richard Wanda
Wanda is a hard candidate to track. I wonder if he realizes that it ought to be very easy to get exposure as a candidate for mayor. Not only has he neglected to return most media requests for statements or biographical information, but he has also declined attending most of the open forums, some of which even Kern attended. Among the few statements that Wanda has made were in answer to an Anchorage Daily News candidate questionnaire, in which Wanda expresses concern for the municipal budget and a need for a bear control program. Wanda’s responses to the questionnaire were not entirely relevant to the questions asked. At this point, a vote for Wanda would basically be a shot into the dark.

Lastly, while some people may complain about the viability of some of the candidates, it would be a regrettable shame to tighten election law in order to exclude any of these people. It is vitally important that anyone – and I do mean anyone – that believes that they have something to offer their city should be allowed to campaign for public office. It is the responsibility of the voter to determine their preferred candidate and support them.
Regardless of who garners enough votes to face Sullivan in the run-off, here’s hoping for a competitive race, one run on the issues and not on who has an arena with their name on it.