Little Information Comes from Mayoral Candidate Forum
Candidates gave vague answers and incorrect information
ANCHORAGE - What if you gave a mayoral candidate forum and none of the candidates showed up?
Much the same result came from the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce forum at the Dena’ina Center today.
Although plenty of people attended, there might have been little illumination about the choice Anchorage residents face April 3.
The format was rigid.
There was no direct interaction among the candidates.
In one round, each candidate got a different question - allowing for no contrasts on positions, and factual errors did not get corrected by moderator Bruce Bustamante.
They had little chance to elaborate on their answers, as when Assemblyman Paul Honeman talked about his goals. “The first is to restore the public's confidence in the public process and I’d love to explain more about that."
He never did.
Incumbent Mayor Dan Sullivan talked about four areas he'd pledged to improve in 2009's race. "And I think you're going to see over the course of this forum and over the course of the campaign that we've made significant progress in every one of those areas."
Included were two long-shot candidates, Phil Isley and Bob Lupo.
Isley inaccurately said new public employees would be enrolled in the defined benefit retirement system.
Lupo indicated he thought that Hollywood movie producers pay taxes in Alaska, which they don't.
Lupo made references to his girth and age. "Let me look at my notes here. The one thing that goes when you get this old is your short-term memory. Oops! 10 seconds. OK, I’ll talk to you later."
Isley strayed far afield. "It seems kind of strange to me that you have a major highway that doesn't connect to a major airport."
Sullivan was not asked for a response, although earlier he said that crime is down in Anchorage.
One round started off with no talking at all. "We call them 'show of hands' questions, so I’ll ask a question and ask if you support that particular issue," Bustamante said.
A chamber spokesman described the forum as "somewhat traditional, non-partisan and educational."
But it managed to avoid the two hottest topics in the mayoral race - Honeman's charge that Sullivan’s job of snow plowing leaves a lot to be desired; and a radio talk show host who used to work for Sullivan claiming that Honeman failed to take action when he was with the Anchorage Police Department that might have headed off serial rapes by a former officer.