Change is coming to the Anchorage Assembly. Tuesday night was the last meeting for three of its seven members. Next week, three new members will be sworn in and leadership will likely shift.


Dick Traini has been the chair for 12 years, longer than anyone else. And in his 17 years on the Assembly, he’s seen and heard it all.


“We had one guy who used to show up wearing a tinfoil hat. Kept the cosmic rays out of his head,” he recalled. Quirky, maybe, but public comments are for everyone. “You don’t debate as chairman. You try to moderate the debate. And your object is the make everybody think they’re welcomed here, and that this is their home.”


Sitting behind the podium with him for years, has been Vice Chair Elvi Gray-Jackson.


“We work so well together,” she said. “We represent the same district, and we just, we just work really well together. We’re both Aries. And Aries, one of the traits of Aries is a leader. We’re leaders.”


“We have T-shirts,” explained Traini. “They say, ‘Who you gonna call?’ [and] on the back it says, ‘Dick and Elvi.'”


Traini-Jackson Shirts


With a year left before Gray-Jackson’s term limit, she said she’s hoping the leadership dynamic of the duo will shift.


“I’m really excited and hopeful that I’ll be chair and I’m also hopeful that our colleagues will vote him in as vice chair,” she said.


“If that’s what she wants to do, become chairman, I’ll support her,” said Traini of his friend of more than 20 years.


He said he’s also looking forward to being more involved in discussion.


“As chairman, I have to bite my tongue. So I won’t have to. Should be fun!” he joked.


While Assembly terms last three years, chairmanship lasts one year, meaning Traini could become the chair again in the future.


Once Assembly members certify the election on Tuesday, April 19 and swear in the new members, the Assembly will vote on their next chair and vice chair. The person who gets six votes on the secret ballot will take over.


KTVA 11’s Daniella Rivera can be reached via email and on Facebook and Twitter.