For Tim Steele, running for the Anchorage Assembly is becoming an annual event. It was just 12 months ago that Steele won his West Anchorage Assembly race by a comfortable margin over Cheryl Frasca.
That victory, however, was for the right to serve the final year remaining in the term of former Assembly member Harriet Drummond, who left her seat early after winning election to the state House.
Steele describes himself as a left-leaning moderate; he’s now seeking his own three-year term, but is no stranger to public office after nine years on the Anchorage School Board. Despite his time as a board member, Steele says his year on the Assembly was filled with new experiences.
To his chagrin, Steele says the Assembly is much more political than the school board. Steele says his first time helping to craft the city budget was also a new experience.
The Spenard resident says he did try to put his time to good use. According to Steele, he has requested money to get what he calls a much-needed road project moving.
Steele and others have been working to make improvements to a section of Spenard Road running from Hillcrest Drive to Benson Boulevard.
“We’ve been working on it for the past decade and we finally have businesses and residents in alignment,” Steele said.
According to Steele, the section of Spenard is prone to traffic congestion and “isn’t very safe for pedestrians and bike riders.”
Steele’s opponent in the race also knows Spenard well. Phil Isley is a lifelong Alaskan and Spenard resident, who spent 22 years in the Alaska Army National Guard.
Isley, who describes himself as a conservative, says he decided to run for the Assembly to give West Anchorage voters a choice.
One of Isley’s main issues in the campaign is the municipal budget. He says it’s time for the city to take notice of its finances by preparing budget plans five years into the future.
“I think right now, we’re in a place where we’re going to start losing federal dollars and we’re going to start losing state dollars pretty soon, and we need to prepare for that so we don’t go off the financial cliff,” Isley said.
Isley also says the city needs to prioritize what it’s going to spend money on. For instance, he says the Loussac Library has been in need of repairs for several years -- but the city didn’t request funding from the state in last year’s capital budget, instead asking for money to build an indoor tennis complex in West Anchorage. Money to fix the library is included in this year’s capital request.
Voters in West Anchorage will go to the polls for the second time in a year Tuesday to choose their Assembly member.