Forrest Dunbar officially announces plans to run for Anchorage mayor in 2021

Forrest Dunbar.

Anchorage Assemblyman and 2014 Democratic congressional candidate Forrest Dunbar has officially announced his plans to run for Anchorage mayor in 2021.

Dunbar filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission on Sunday, which allows him to begin fundraising and campaigning for the seat, and made an official announcement this morning in a video posted to Facebook.

“I believe in this city and what we can accomplish together,” he said. “Anchorage can be a place where young people move to find the jobs of the future, where students and families find a world-class education system and our seniors can retire with confidence. And, frankly, it can be a place where we all still have fun and feel safe. … Anchorage can be an exciting city: A livable, walkable, bikeable city with a vibrant downtown and affordable housing.”

Dunbar debuted on Alaska’s political scene in 2014 with a run against U.S. Rep. Don Young in the general election, where he finished with 41 percent of the statewide vote. Dunbar won a seat on the Anchorage Assembly in 2016 to represent the assembly’s District H seat and was re-elected in an uncontested race earlier this year.

He’s the first major candidate to make official his plans to run for Anchorage Mayor in 2021, which is when current mayor Ethan Berkowitz will reach his term limit. The Anchorage mayor is elected to three-year terms.

Dunbar has frequently appeared alongside Mayor Berkowitz and local labor leaders to demonstrate against the cuts made by Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy.

Why it matters

The early announcement gives Dunbar plenty of time to fundraise and campaign for the position. Under state contribution rules, candidates can raise $500 per person per year. By filing two years in advance, this allows Dunbar to raise as much as $1,500 from political donors.

With the potential to build up a significant cash and organizational advantage, it could help Dunbar secure the progressive field and avoid fracturing the progressive vote.

Conservative candidates have yet to signal their plans to enter the race, but there has been some chatter around some legislators potentially considering the position. The likely win in Fairbanks by Mayor Jim Matherly, who ran on a socially conservative platform, could serve as inspiration for other local elections that have seen enthusiasm for conservative candidates wane in recent years.

Announcement video

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