In her final hours as acting mayor of Anchorage, Austin Quinn-Davidson spent money, time and city resources to produce a gushing video that depicts her as a heroine who guided the city through its darkest hour.
The 13-minute video was posted on the city website on June 30, just hours before she was forced to vacate the mayor’s office for the duly elected Mayor Dave Bronson. Quinn-Davidson had been serving as acting mayor since last October, after Ethan Berkowitz abruptly resigned. She now returns to her post on the Assembly.
The video features mood-setting piano music as Quinn-Davidson and her “wife,” Stephanie, recount the courage and strength required of Quinn-Davidson to embrace her unexpected leadership role.
Stephanie, who shares Quinn-Davidson’s last name, said she was anxious when her “wife” took on the acting mayor post.
“You know I often read things in the paper about me – or you know blogs or something,” Quinn-Davidson said. “It’s not at all true and it’s not who I am.”
“I knew how much she works already and puts herself into that work, but I was also really proud of her, because I watched her just step into that role pretty seamlessly and just hit the ground running,” Stephanie said.
Throughout the mini-documentary, scenes of the lesbian couple playing, laughing with their dogs and hugging each other are shown. At one point, triumphant photos of Quinn-Davidson speaking at rallies pans across the screen.
“I was there to meet that moment,” Quinn-Davidson said of her leadership over the past eight months. She said her goal was to “do the best possible job – to give it all that I could give.”
Her lesbian partner then spoke about how hard political life can be on “spouses.” As she speaks, photos of her marching in LGBTQ parades and other events pan across the screen.
At one point Quinn-Davidson takes a moment to condemn unfavorable media coverage and criticism she has received from many Anchorage residents who are not impressed with her political decisions.
“You know I often read things in the paper about me – or you know blogs or something. It’s not at all true and it’s not who I am,” she claimed. “And it’s sort of funny but also makes me realize that people forget that we’re all human, and that we’re all trying to do our best and we’re all trying to help each other.”
She condemned those who put “anyone in a box,” saying it is “really unfair and it’s just not accurate.”
The music then turns a bit more ominous as Quinn-Davidson recounts the day she tested positive for COVID.
From there the video transitions to her life growing up in rural Northern California. It shows photos of her parents and her sister, recounting how her mom and dad showed taught her that there wasn’t “just one way to live your life.” That’s the line at which the video transitions to a segment recounting how Quinn-Davidson met her future “wife.” This section also attempts to dispel notions that Quinn-Davidson is just a “big city” lawyer.
“I mean, it’s like no way,” Stephanie said of this characterization. “We both grew up quite poor in very rural settings and that has shaped who we are and our life goals and giving back to our community.”
Quinn-Davidson said growing up in need made her into the type of person who is “able to do things like this job,” adding that being the acting mayor entailed “really heavy-duty responsibilities, as you can imagine.”
The music then turns a bit more ominous as Quinn-Davidson recalls the day she tested positive for COVID. She said she had a cold and felt “really tired.”
Stephanie chimed in to paint a picture of how hard it was on the acting mayor to be sick and still carry out her mayoral duties.
Towards the end of the video, Quinn-Davidson brags about her greatest accomplishments.
“It was hard to watch her go through that and feel – you know I felt helpless,” Stephanie said.
“But I was also working 14 to 16 hours a day,” Quinn-Davidson boasts. “I just had to get through it.”
While Quinn-Davidson recovered, Stephanie said she had to take care of her, while also cook meals and walk their dogs. The couple then gaze at each other and smiled lovingly.
Towards the end of the video, Quinn-Davidson brags about her greatest accomplishments, which includes handing out federal COVID relief funds, and getting restaurants to make food for those in need. She also claims she did a really good job of making people trust her and become comfortable with the decisions she was making. That was made possible through impressive press conferences she set up that included medical experts, she said.
With regard to COVID, Quinn-Davidson is enormously proud of how she was able to help facilitate and encourage so many vaccinations.
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Throughout the video, she avoids addressing the heated controversy which her decisions created, especially with regard to shutting local businesses, many of which closed permanently due to lack of revenue.
“This was a time when we all needed to be together, rowing in the same direction, even if we’re doing it slightly differently,” Quinn-Davidson said.
She ends with an emotional statement in which her voice breaks as she praises her administration at the municipality.
“That’s one’s probably going to make me cry,” she said when asked to talk about them. The interviewer then asks if she wants to come back to that question later.
“No, I’m okay,” she says choking back tears. “It’s been such an honor to serve in this role, but truly it is the staff and my team that deserve as much – any credit – for what we did right.”
The video ends with Stephanie lavishing more praise on Quinn-Davidson
“I hope Anchorage realizes that there wasn’t more that she could give,” she said. “She gave it her all.”
The video closes with photos of people getting vaccinated and wearing masks.