Anchorage officials counted municipal mail-in ballots Wednesday, including a surge of that arrived Tuesday. Forest Dunbar and Dave Bronson appear headed for a runoff race for mayor, with the election held May 11. 

With most ballots counted, Dunbar had 13,711 votes to Bronson’s 12,968. Those numbers will change as ballots still coming in are counted, but the outcome won’t. 

The latest count also showed mayoral candidates Bill Falsey with 5,312; Bill Evans with 3,871 votes; Mike Robbins at 3,097, and George Martinez at 1,272. There were nine other candidates which received small share of the votes cast so far. Under Anchorage’s election rules a candidate must obtain 45 percent of votes cast to avoid a runoff. 

In a related development, Assembly Member Felix Rivera appears to have survived an attempted recall in Anchorage’s assembly district four, which is in midtown. Rivera was targeted by an opposition group over his support for pandemic control measures in the city including business lockdowns. With the Wednesday tally, 3,821 voters in District 4 had noted no on Rivera’s recall while 3,821 voted yes.

Along with candidates for mayor and the recall question on Rivera in the district ballot there were other measures approving bonds for public facilities, public safety, parks and other purposes. 

Based on Wednesday, April 7 counts all of the bond issues appear to be passing except for one of two municipal capital improvement bonds.  Anchorage's election is being closely watched as an indicator of the political mood of a city with about half the state's population. Municipal elections are nonpartisan but several conservative candidates for mayor are running and how well they do will indicate a possible swing of voters toward conservatives, with implications for the 2022 races for governor, U.S. Senate and local legislative seats.

The election is also a referendum on the city’s aggressive response to the COVID-19 pandemic and municipal control measures. Even though the recall targeted only Rivera, public attitudes will have filtered through all of the election results.

A runoff race, if it pits Dunbar against Bronson, will offer voters a more clear cut choice of a liberal-leaning candidate, Dunbar, and a conservative, Bronson.  

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