A one-hour mayoral forum, between former Anchorage Assemblywoman Suzanne LaFrance and incumbent Mayor Dave Bronson revealed sharp differences on some of the most divisive and controversial cultural issues.

The hard-left LaFrance is challenging the conservative incumbent Bronson in the May 14 mayoral runoff election given that neither candidate earned 45% of the regular election vote last month. Earlier this week, the city clerk’s office mailed out nearly 208,000 ballots to registered voters. Those should be arriving by mail on May 7.

The April 28 candidate forum, Hosted by the far-leftist Alaska Black Caucus President Celeste Hodge Growden, focused almost exclusively on questions about systemic racism, diversity, equity, inclusion, the BIPOC (black, indigenous and people of color) agenda, white supremacy, police accountability and homelessness. After each question, candidates had one minute to respond.

LaFrance used her answers to affirm Growden’s assertions about systemic racism and a perceived lack of diversity in Anchorage’s local government.

The controversial notion of “systemic racism,” which asserts that people can be subconscious racists, and promote unfair policies without even knowing it.

Bronson, on the other hand, tried to address common concerns that all residents need addressed.

When asked what the main issue was for “people of color,” LaFrance suggested that homelessness, snow plowing and public education were issues that somehow impacted the “BIPOC community to a greater degree.” Bronson pointed to the pending shortage of natural gas, and the need for all residents to access affordable energy. Without it, everyone would suffer, regardless of skin color.

In response to how they would “ensure meaningful engagement with the BIPOC community,” Bronson said he would continue his practice of meeting with all groups, regardless of ethnic identity. “We’re not going to pick and choose,” he said, adding that his aim is to advance the entire community.

LaFrance suggested that city hall needed to be more “diverse” and said she would make sure people know how to access government bodies, such as the “Equity Advisory Committee,” to raise their concerns.

Growden then delved into the controversial notion of “systemic racism,” which asserts that people can be subconscious racists, and promote unfair policies without even knowing it. This ideology is often used by leftist groups to attack traditional values and undermine American history and culture.

LaFrance said she wanted to address this by promoting the city’s Office of Equity and Justice, and ensuring that municipal hiring, contracting and purchasing is “equitable.”

Bronson matter-of-factly pointed out that minority representation in city employment has gone from 22% to 26% during his first three years as mayor. He noted that this has occurred “without showing favoritism,” but by simply letting more people know about job openings.

When asked why he recently promoted a black woman, Bianca Cross, to be Anchorage’s new police chief, Bronson said he didn’t pick her because she was black or female, but because “she’s the best.”

On the question of how they would “build trust” in policing for BIPOC residents, Bronson said general community trust is built by having a stable, well-equipped and seasoned force. To achieve this, he has worked to increase police pay and purchase new cars and equipment.

LaFrance’s answer focused more on increasing officer training seminars and prioritizing more engagement with BIPOC activists.

When asked why he recently promoted a black woman, Bianca Cross, to be Anchorage’s new police chief, Bronson said he didn’t pick her because she was black or female, but because “she’s the best.” He said he talked to officers across the police department, and she was clearly the top candidate.

LaFrance, who has been critical of nearly every Bronson decision, was asked if she’d retain Bianca as chief of police. She wouldn’t commit, saying she was not looking that far ahead.

Growden then pivoted to questions about Anchorage’s chief equity officer, a post established in 2021 under former acting-Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson to advance LGBTQ political issues while promoting and providing special opportunities for select minority groups across the city. When Bronson was first elected, he placed a different emphasis on the equity officer’s duties – less focus on systemic inequity and more on ensuring that city job notices and recruitment efforts reach both minority groups and other qualified candidates. It was more equality of opportunity rather than equality of outcomes.

In response to Growden’s question, Bronson highlighted the fact that his equity officer has recently engaged Samoan elders to address school-related problems and to provide mentorship for young men.

LaFrance, who has been critical of Bronson’s repurposing of the equity officer’s roles, said she wanted to increase staffing for the equity officer and solicit reports on various initiatives to eradicate what she sees as a lack of “equity.”

When the topic of Anchorage’s chronic homelessness problem came up, Bronson challenged LaFrance for voting with her fellow left-leaning assembly members to block the transportation of a “ready-made” homeless shelter that is currently sitting on a dock in Seattle – paid for and ready to construct. He noted his frustration that the Assembly has been unwilling to work with him to solve this issue on multiple fronts.

When asked, point blank, if they would “condemn white supremacy,” both candidates said it had no place in society.

LaFrance said she wanted more housing units, and said it should be easier to build in Anchorage, but offered no concrete proposals.

Both candidates said the underlying cause of homelessness was complex with Bronson pointing to drug and alcohol addiction and psychiatric problems, while LaFrance noted that child abuse, domestic violence, assault and physical and mental health issues all contribute to homelessness. Each candidate said the city needs to spend money on more services to this community.

When asked, point blank, if they would “condemn white supremacy,” both candidates said it had no place in society.

Growden also asked how each candidate would “support black and brown officers of color.”

LaFrance admitted that she didn’t know the specific issues they face, but said she was committed to “establishing a respectful environment for all employees.”

For Bronson’s part, he said he wouldn’t treat anyone any differently, adding, “It’s an insult to treat an officer differently based on their skin color.” He added that officers are “supposed to be blue,” and he would focus on merit and the “content of their character” when dealing with all officers.

Growden then pressed the candidates on how they would incorporate “diversity” into their administration.

LaFrance wants to invite “diverse” people to apply, including LGBTQ activist groups. Bronson said he will simply hire based on merit, not skin color or ethnicity. Anything less, he said is insulting. “If you hire someone for something other than that they are good at their job, it’s an insult,” he noted.

On the question of whether they would work to increase income for low wage workers, Bronson said government should not be coercing private businesses to increase wages, but the city should ensure that it is paying workers enough to retain their services. He also supports more efforts to ensure some employees can work from home when that is feasible.

LaFrance said she supports the state’s effort to increase minimum wage across all sectors, and said expanding city subsidized childcare with cannabis taxes was also part of her solution for low-wage workers.

The last question asked about “systemic barriers” for BIPOC employees. Bronson said he would work to thwart racism when it occurs, but said he does not see “systemic racism” in Anchorage. He reiterated his policy of hiring based on objective skills and merit, saying people deserve respect “not because of their skin color, but because they are created in God’s image.”

LaFrance wasn’t sure what specific “barriers” BIPOC employees faced, but said she wanted to have discussions, so everyone feels “comfortable.”


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Anchorage mayoral candidates reveal stark differences on hot-button social issues

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


  • AK Fish says:

    Homelessness, snow plowing are color blind as well as public education in Anchorage. Hiring, awarding contracts, and/or purchasing from people/companies/corporations based on merit is the only way to operate. Let the best person/company corporations with the best qualifications win. Equity/diversity based operations are a slippery slope to mediocrity.

    All people are afforded the same access, resources, and opportunities to succeed [or fail] to be hired, awarded a contract or purchased widgets from the Municipality.

  • Frank Mita says:

    Minority participation in municipal jobs has increased under Bronson’s watch because many high level white employees quit or were fired by Bronson.

    • The Left has no moral compass says:

      Ssoooo, what you are saying is it was the Democrat mayors before Bronson that engaged in systemic racism by only hiring whites?
      Good thing Bronson has brought in some equity.

  • Jon and Ruth Ewig says:

    Bronson did an excellent job of answering the left-leaning biased questions. There is no such thing as Systemic racism. This phrase was invented to create division.. Melanin is skin color and that does not determine your output. All that LaFrance is talking about is Marxist because there is only one way to think and you better think that way or else. Marxists want control of your lives from just after we no longer need a bottle until death. There is no freedom in this left wing ideology which supposedly leads to “utopia” but in reality is enslaving. LaFrance’s solutions are unstable and the questioning.led to each person’s idea of what is just instead of Biblical Justice which is wisdom and leads to freedom. Mr Bronson rightfully used respect, merit, accomplishment as criteria for promotion. God is in charge not one group or another selected group. LBGTQ is antii-god because it enslaves. All of the terms DEI, SEL, and CRT are ideologies that are Marxist and damaging to children, teens and adults. They do not make a healthy city environment with healthy, productive citizens with Western Civ Values. Let us pray that the election is honest and that Bronson wins.

  • Proud Alaskan says:

    A Vote for LaFrance gets you a Portland, and yes more homeless living in your neighborhoods.
    Wokenesss, where’s your mask and your covid shot, lockdowns, disrespect you name it.

    Anchorage you better get out and vote. IF NOT, you have no say, stop complaining.
    Vote Bronson for a God fearing man who trying to help you Anchorage.

    • Prouder Alaskan says:

      A vote for Bronson gets you an Anchorage, with unplowed streets, lawsuit settlements, unvetted department heads, 50 unfilled police officer jobs, and on and on.

      • AK Pilot says:

        Ah yes, Bronson is somehow able to control the weather and managed to bring us a near-record snowfall season, with half of an average season’s worth of snow falling in November alone.

      • Proud Alaskan says:

        Did you read the article about?
        No vetting, just hire the wokest unqualified person to spread more sick propaganda, evil lies through out your administration. That’s what you get with LaFrance.

  • Polarbull says:

    I received the most underhanded political mail out I have ever seen. The front in large block letters said it was a voting guide for the mayoral run off. In tiny little letters in upper left with washed out colors it acknowledged it was from Lafrance. On the back side was obviously slanted bullet points. It was an attempt to influence uninformed voters. Totally dishonest!

    • Steven Chappell says:

      I didn’t see the washed out colors noting it from LaFrance I only had to read a couple of bullet points to know it was from a left leaning source. Promptly placed it where it belonged in the trash can after tearing it apart.

  • Anon says:

    If the conservatives want to win, they better get off their butts and vote !
    Dems out vote repubs damn near every election

    • Friend of Humanity says:

      Agreed. I believe that the USPS needs to be investigated for their role in these election steals. I just cannot believe that the numbers of “voters’ is so apathetic.

      • Steven Chappell says:

        That is the reason why I deliberately hand deliver mine and my wife’s ballot back to the drop box right outside the vote counting building.