The West Anchorage Assembly race is still six months from being decided, but it’s already getting heated as the three way dynamic between solidly conservative Adam Trombley, proudly progressive Eric Croft, and decidedly non-partisan Ira Perman forces all three candidates to jockey to define both themselves and their opponents.
On Thursday, Perman says he noticed on Anchorage Education Association President Andy Holleman’s Facebook page a posting for an Eric Croft fundraiser and a comment by Holleman about Perman that said:
“I am pretty sure he had more of a hand in AO 37 than most folks realize, and that’s an issue for me.”
AO-37 was a highly contentious local ordinance passed in 2013 that would have dramatically reduced public employee union power by reforming the city’s collective bargaining process.
I spoke to Holleman and while our conversation was off the record, it seems Holleman’s perception was born out of Perman’s positioning himself as the protege to Assemblyman Ernie Hall. At Perman’s campaign kick-off fundraiser both Hall and Perman spoke glowingly of one another and how closely they worked together on virtually every issue during Hall’s time on the assembly.
That messaging mixed with the fact that Hall not only voted for AO-37, but sponsored it has apparently given rise to questions of what Perman would do if elected.
In response Perman issued a press release stating:
“AO-â€37 attempted to legislate contract terms and working conditions that should be negotiated in good faith between the Municipality of Anchorage and its represented employees.
AO-â€37 tried to set (among other things) wage adjustments, health insurance coverage, working conditions and elimination of binding arbitration, even for public safety employees who are not permitted to strike. As an assembly member, I will vigorously oppose any repeat of AO-â€37.”
Perman said he has become concerned because he’s heard Croft supporters are misrepresenting his position on issues and telling progressives he is “the Republican in the race.”
Perman and Hall aren’t the only ones in the West Anchorage assembly race that could face questions on AO-37.
Adam Trombly served on the assembly when the ordinance was passed. He voted to pass the ordinance, but months later also voted to repeal it. That switch put Trombley at odds with conservative activists and then Mayor Dan Sullivan, who claimed Trombley’s failure to support his administration’s signature legislation is what cost Trombley re-election.
It is unclear if conservatives and the former Mayor have put AO-37 behind them and will actively support Trombley, even though he is the clearly conservative in the race.
Local elections tend to be less about broad “low information” voter support and more about turning out passionate “base” voters. That means while each campaign will be trying to grow their base of support, how excited that base is to get out and vote could play a larger factor. As a result, candidates positions on issues like A0-37 and the LGBT rights ordinance AO-96 that have animated voting blocks on either side could play the decisive role in this election.