Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson released a lengthy statement regarding his second year in office.
“Thanks to the hard work of our directors and thousands of municipal employees, we have made significant progress over the last year in the areas of public safety, the Port of Alaska, economic development, homelessness, and good governance. Serving as your mayor remains an incredible privilege and honor,” he said. “Representing and working on behalf of 300,000 people each day is a humbling and motivating experience. I will continue to advance policies that grow our economy and create jobs, keep property taxes low, make Anchorage safer, and put people first.”
The full text of Mayor Bronson’s speech is found below:
I’d like to take this time to reflect on the last year and provide Anchorage residents with an update on the progress my Administration has made since last July. We are now two years into my term, and the efforts underway to rebuild and revitalize our city are firing on all cylinders.
When it comes to public safety, the Port of Alaska, economic development, homelessness, and good governance we are getting back on the right track and rebuilding our great city!
As it concerns public safety, we’ve had some major wins.
The Anchorage Fire Department has deployed a game changing app in Anchorage, called PulsePoint. PulsePoint is a lifesaving free app that notifies users when someone in the area has a heart attack. This app has had huge success in saving lives across thousands of communities in North America. I encourage residents to download the app and to take proper CPR training so when the time arises you can be a hero.
Thanks to high quality staff and training, AFD has increased the rate at which people in Anchorage who have heart attacks survive, by 13 points to over 57%. The national average is only 34%. With this rating, Anchorage ranks among the best EMS agencies in the nation.
Through my budget I have prioritized equipment replacement to ensure crews have the best resources to respond to emergencies. This work has helped AFD secure 4 new fire engines, and 2 ladders trucks to replace old and hard to repair equipment.
Lastly, AFD worked hard to secure a $10 million federal grant at my direction. This grant will hire new firefighters to beef up staffing across town. We are currently recruiting for a new academy to fill these positions.
Looking at the Police Department, we have continued holding two academies per year. APD conducted quarterly crime suppression operations in partnership with local businesses. These targeted efforts crack down on shoplifters and help locate many individuals with outstanding warrants.
Our specialized units have seized records amounts of drugs, firearms, and illegal proceeds. Violent crime is trending down through the 1st quarter of 2023.
At the start of this year, I began meeting with downtown business owners to address public safety concerns in the downtown corridor. APD leadership has been present at all these meetings to ensure the public’s concerns and perspectives are heard.
Likewise, we are moving forward with body worn cameras and should have those fully deployed on officers by 2024. This is a policy I have supported, as I believe it will ensure safety for both officers and the public.
In the world of safety, the safety of our Municipal employees remains paramount. Without safe working conditions for our employees, they cannot do their best job to serve you – the public. There were long-standing safety problems throughout the Muni workforce that my Administration inherited. Through collaboration with the Assembly and our new Safety Manager we have drastically improved the safety culture and training programs to keep our workers and the public safe. We have worked with State OSHA to address all the outstanding issues, and in the process saved taxpayers hundreds of thousands in fines and penalties.
Port of Alaska
Turning to the Port, we made tremendous progress over the last year.
I spent time in both Juneau and D.C. talking with legislators, congressional leaders, agency heads and military officials about the critical nature of the Port modernization project. Our message was well received.
We secured the largest federal grant, at nearly $70 million, that any Port received under that program. This grant will go towards the North Extension Stabilization project. That project is an effort to shore up the north end of the Port, and make that area a seismically resilient portion of the facility. Likewise, we opened the new seismically resilient Petroleum and Cement Terminal – giving our state a secure and reliable source of fuel and cement – crucial elements to our modern economy.
Crews broke ground on the new Administration office and the North Extension Stabilization project. We brought in another $10 million that will go towards power resiliency and Port wide infrastructure improvements.
In May we hosted Holland-America’s M/S Nieuw Amsterdam, at the Port. Over 2000 passengers were on that ship. This was one of the first cruise ships to visit Alaska this summer. Holland-America and Anchorage have a partnership going back 75 years, and we look forward to hosting another one of their fine vessels in Anchorage later this summer.
On the topic of tourism and our economy, we continue to create jobs and rebuild our city!
We are in the midst of the largest tourism season ever in Alaska’s history, with over 3 million visitors projected to spend time in our beautiful state. Many of these travelers will come through Anchorage – either through Ted Stevens’ airport, or by car/train/bus. More visitors in our city means more money spent on local businesses, and more tax revenue for the city that helps off-set property taxes. This incredible rebound in tourism, along with our pro-business approach has helped create 2,900 jobs since last May in Anchorage.
Unemployment remains at historical lows, around 3%. We are experiencing another healthy construction season, with nearly $150 million worth of activity through April of this year.
In downtown, we worked collaboratively with private sector developers to spur re-developments of the Aviator Hotel ($70 million project) and buildings along 4th Ave and continue to support the efforts of the Block 41 redevelopment. Through our 49th State Angel Fund we invested in 6 new companies: Remora, Ramper Innovations, Heather’s Choice, 60Hertz Energy, Greensparc, and Prismatext.
To support and encourage greater entrepreneurship in our community I issued the first proclamation for Anchorage Startup Week, and helped host numerous events and roundtables highlighting small business throughout our city.
Likewise, I helped ink the deal on the first two C-PACER loans in Alaska – the RIM Architecture Building and Aviator Hotel. These innovative investments in commercial properties will help businesses owners achieve significant energy savings and improve the life span of their buildings.
Through ACDA, we brought Roger Brooks to Anchorage and created the Project Anchorage Taskforce to develop recommendations that my administration could act on to enhance our city and make it a more attractive place to live, work and play. Through the work of the taskforce, we’ve made improvements to Peratrovich Park, increased foot patrols and safety enforcement in the downtown corridor, and added wayfinding signs to various Municipal buildings downtown. As we enter the budget season this fall, I intend on prioritizing efforts and initiatives that will change the face of downtown for decades to come.
If you only got your news from the daily paper, you’d think the only thing happening in Anchorage was homelessness. As evidenced by the successes we’ve had this last year that isn’t the case, however, homelessness does consume a large portion of my time and energy.
Though we haven’t stood up the Tudor/Elmore shelter and navigation center that I’ve advocated for since coming into office, we have made progress that everyone can be proud of. Hundreds of new housing units have come online over the last year that will prevent folks from being on the street.
Hotel conversions, when properly managed, can be successful. The Golden Lion is coming online in short order as we finalize an agreement with an operator to run it as a low-income housing project. I supported Bean’s Cafe kitchen and food production facility. Likewise, it was wonderful to see the 3rd Avenue Navigation center come online thanks to the hard work of Catholic Social Services and other community partners.
ALASKA WATCHMAN DIRECT TO YOUR INBOX
We explored code changes to allow ASD relocatable classrooms to be repurposed and used as housing, and discussed many of the ideas you hear Assembly members now pushing as part of their Clean Slate Strategy.
I held a public town hall in midtown to hear from concerned residents when certain members of the Assembly wanted to buy the Arctic Recreation Center to turn it into a large shelter and homeless housing complex. After hearing from the citizens of midtown, I made it clear that I didn’t support this idea that was hastily rushed and followed no public process.
I continue to push for the concept of a large shelter to address the serious need for winter sheltering. Without a large Muni-run facility to safely shelter people experiencing homelessness, Anchorage will continue to struggle on where roughly 500-700 people should go. Though the Assembly has delayed the decision to complete the Nav Center till August, it is my hope we will find pathways forward to protect the health and safety of those experiencing homelessness in our community come winter.
Before closing, I wanted to touch on a few exciting developments we’ve had across our city departments before closing.
At People Mover, we welcomed 11 new modern buses, the first since 2013. And we brought on 14 new Ford Transit vans, the first all-wheel drive buses in AnchorRIDES history. These are major upgrades that will improve the ride quality and safety of riders.
I worked with AWWU leadership to secure $20 million in federal funding for improvements at Powder Reserve and Holtan Hills to move those housing developments along. AWWU also won some incredible national awards regarding safe drinking water.
We passed code changes streamlining the process to spur more ADU development and have seen a serious uptick in the number of homeowners who are interested in pursuing this type of investment.
Anchorage continues to grow and rebound from the Covid years. We’ve kept government in check and continue to provide essential services citizens expect.
These accomplishments exemplify just some of the work my Administration has undertaken in the last year. I look forward to seeing what our city accomplishes this next year.
Other than being a husband and father, it is the greatest privilege and honor of my life to serve as your mayor. Representing and working on behalf of 300,000 people each day is a humbling and motivating experience.
I will continue to advance policies that grow our economy and create jobs, keep property taxes low, and put people first.
Thank you for your trust and prayers.
The views express here are those of the author.