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​​​​​Chair Report

At each Regular Assembly Meeting, Chair Christopher Constant gives a report on recent community events and issues of interest before the Assembly. If you missed the Chair's Report, you can catch up below.

Chair Constant represents District 1, North Anchorage. He was first elected in ​2017 and became the Assembly Chair at the April 25, 2023 Regular Assembly Meeting.


Notice: this page contains the opinion and views of the Assembly Chair, which do not necessarily represent the views of the Anchorage Assembly or Municipality of Anchorage.

June 11, 2024

​View the recording of the remarks. 

Good evening everyone and welcome. 

80th Anniversary of D-DAY
Last week, the world commemorated the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings along the Normandy coast during World War II. The historic D-day invasion was a turning point in World War II that eventually resulted in the liberation of Western Europe from the grip of Nazi Germany. 

Unfortunately, today the term “Nazi” is often used casually as an insult to political rivals or people we don’t like, which minimizes the level of evil embodied in that movement. The Nazis used their laws and their military power to murder millions of innocent Jewish people, gay people, people with disabilities, and political opponents, and it took nearly the whole world coming together to stop it. Therefore, it’s important that we continue to recognize and revisit this history so that this terrible era is not watered down or forgotten over time.

As we reflect on the horrors of the past, it seems a fitting that tonight, we also recognize Juneteenth, Pride Month and World Refugee Day to honor and celebrate people who have suffered at the hands of wars, violence and discrimination. 

Juneteenth Celebration
The annual Juneteenth Celebration, commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, will take place this weekend on the Park Strip and will be an opportunity to reflect and learn, and celebrate this moment in our history. On Monday, the Chamber of Commerce will host a special Juneteenth Make it Monday event, and then Wednesday, June 19th is the official holiday and all Municipal offices will be closed. We welcome our state colleagues this year in marking their first observance of the day as a state holiday. Once again, Anchorage is leading the way.

Pride Month
June is also Pride Month, and while it’s a joyful time, it’s also an important time to recognize the discrimination and hate toward LGBTQ+ individuals in the community, and transgender people in particular at this point in time. Unfortunately, our young people are often the target of this hatred. To the young people in our community who are questioning your identity or struggling with these issues, and feel alone, I want you to know that we see you and we value you. You are important members of our community and you have a place here. And to others in our community, I ask you to step up and support Anchorage’s LGBTQ+ community during this challenging time and show that Anchorage is and will continue to be an accepting, collaborative and tolerant community. And be sure to attend the Annual Pride Parade on June 29th!

World Refugee Day
Also, on July 27 there will be an event at Grow North Farm to celebrate World Refugee Day. In 2023, Alaska welcomed more refugees than ever before, helping 452 individuals from such countries such as Afghanistan, Somalia, Ukraine and many more re-start their lives, many of whom have made Anchorage their home. I think this speaks well to our community. We are a welcoming place and we open our arms to people from around the world in their times of need.

My hope is that we can embody the spirit of openness and acceptance that takes place in our community every June and carry that into every month throughout the year.

Food for Thought
Next up, the Assembly is hosting a Food for Thought session this Friday, at 11:30am in Suite 155 at City Hall. I call it’s “What’s Good Anchorage?” Once a month, the Assembly invites community partners to the table for lunchtime sessions dedicated to amplifying the good work happening throughout the Municipality. This month we’ll hear from organizations working to make Anchorage a more equitable and inclusive place.

Port of Alaska Modernization
I’d like to also echo the Mayor in celebrating the modernization of the Port. As you have probably heard by now, the Port of Alaska has begun the next stage of the modernization project – construction on the North Extension Stabilization. I want to thank Member Zaletel, Mayor Bronson, Mia Costello and Port staff for your work to overcome the last-minute hurdles and make sure this project stays on track and our grant funding remains secure. It is exciting to see the construction activity down at the Port.

Mayoral Transition
Finally, we are in the midst of a Mayoral Transition. At a special Assembly meeting on May 31st, the Assembly certified the Mayoral Runoff Election, and so tonight I would like to say congratulations and welcome to Mayor-Elect Suzanne LaFrance. We believe in the smooth transition of power in government and look forward to working with the new Mayor on the Assembly’s priorities. For those of you who would like to give feedback to the Mayor-elect or apply for a job with the administration, I encourage you to visit the transition website at teamanchorage.com.​


May 21, 2024

​View the recording of the remarks. 

Good evening everyone and welcome. As we prepare to enter into the Memorial Day weekend, I want give thanks and remember those who have died while in military service. And earlier this month, we recognized Peace Officers Memorial Day. I hope that while everyone enjoys their barbeques and hikes this weekend that you also take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices made by those who have given their lives in service to our country, and the family and friends they leave behind.

Elections
As you know, last week marked the end of the 2024 Municipal Election cycle. As the Elections Team works to process the final ballots and prepare the Mayoral Runoff Election for certification, I want to give kudos to the Elections Team for a an excellent job. It’s a lot of work to pull off one election, let alone two within a few months, and they did so with professionalism, grace and precision. 

I want to remind voters who received, or may receive, a cure letter in the mail, to cure their ballot verification discrepancies no later than May 29, at 4pm. If a ballot return envelope is missing a signature or if the signature can’t be verified, within three business days election officials send a cure letter to the voter explaining the lack of a valid signature. Voters may cure their ballots by mailing back their cure letter, curing in person at the Election Canter, or by texting “Anchorage” to 28683 using TXT2Cure, a pro-voter initiative introduced during the 2024 Regular Municipal Election.

Next Wednesday, May 29, the Election Commission will meet and hold the Public Session of Canvass to adjudicate challenged ballots. Once that is complete, the certification of the Runoff Election will take place on Friday, May 31 and that will be the official conclusion of the 2024 elections.

Port of Alaska
Last Friday, the Enterprise and Utilities Oversight Committee held a very productive special meeting to review the next steps for the Don Young Port of Alaska Modernization Program. At this point, we appear to be on track for construction of Terminal One and we are now beginning the planning for Terminal Two. 

It is really gratifying that after all of these years of problems with the Port Modernization, we are on the other side of those problems and have a path forward to success. I want to commend everyone who has been involved in this project, including Assembly Members, Port staff, multiple mayoral administrations, state legislators, multiple federal agencies, several consulting teams and the Port user groups. This community has come together and really worked hard to get this once-in-a-generation project on track. We still have hard decisions ahead and it won’t always be easy, but I’m confident we will continue to build on our track record of collaboration and transparency to see this project through to completion. 

Assembly Branch Staff
On tonight’s agenda, you’ll see that the Assembly continues to prioritize building its own strong workforce to support the work of the Legislative Branch with the executive appointments of William Northrop, Election Administrator and Matthew Farina, Assembly Program and Budget Analyst. I’d like to welcome William and Matthew to our team and thank all of the Assembly staff for their work to keep the Assembly working effectively and efficiently.

Food for Thought
Finally, I’d like to announce the next Food for Thought session on Friday, June 14, where we’ll hear from nonprofits working collaboratively to strengthen and increase access to services to underserved communities.

Food for Thought, or “what’s good Anchorage?” is dedicated to amplifying the good work happening throughout the Municipality. The sessions offer Assembly members and the public a window into Anchorage’s bright future and conversations to build positive, collaborative relationships. If you missed the previous sessions on Anchorage’s Music Economy and efforts to house our most vulnerable neighbors in Anchorage, you can find the recordings on the Assembly’s YouTube channel.

Southcentral Foundation Crisis Center
I also want to announce an exciting groundbreaking taking place this May 28th at 3pm for Southcentral Foundation’s crisis stabilization center. This is much needed resource for our community and I encouraged you to learn more about the project. 


May 7, 2024

​View the recording of the remarks. 

Good evening everyone and welcome. 

Anchorage-Assembly_Digital-Art-AAPI-Heritage-Month-2024_2000px.pngAsian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month

First, May is Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month

AAPI represents those with roots and ancestry in the Pacific Islands, East Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia, which contains at least 60 different ethnic groups with distinct cultures, histories, languages, and traditions. Roughly 47,000 people who trace their roots to Asia and the Pacific Islands have made Anchorage their home.

Alongside a resolution in recognition of the many contributions and achievements of Anchorage's Asian American and Pacific Islander residents, past, present, and future, the Assembly is proud to present digital artwork by local artist Rejoy Armamento, that you can find in the upcoming Assembly newsletter and a display in the Library lobby.

 

Quarter One Budget Revision

Next, I would like to give a huge thanks to Budget and Finance Committee Co-Chairs Meg Zaletel and Anna Brawley for leading us so thoughtfully through the first quarter budget revision, as well as the Legislative and Administration staff who helped them along the way.

It's unfortunate that the process around this budget has stirred up controversy, because it distracts from the fact that a lot of people worked very hard to develop a responsible budget operating in some difficult circumstances, without the completed 2022 Audit. They say that you can see a community's values in its budget and the recent budget revisions were very much in line with the Assembly's annual workplan and priorities. The budget revision was passed unanimously by the Assembly last week and clearly demonstrates that the Municipality values public safety, strengthening our municipal workforce, delivering quality municipal services, and improving quality of life in our community.

I hope that after tonight, we can move on from the politics surrounding this process and continue the work of keeping our city running.

 

Eklutna River Restoration

Last week the Project Owners Group submitted a Proposed Final Fish and Wildlife Program to the Governor over the objections and concerns of community members, the Native Village of Eklutna and the Anchorage Assembly. Although this process has been touted as open and transparent, it has been anything but. Instead, closed-door deals, carefully orchestrated public meetings and last-minute ballooning costs are what define the proposed plan.

For those of you wondering, what's next, now that the plan has been submitted to the Governor, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service have 60 days to submit comments on the Proposed Final Fish and Wildlife Program. Once those comments are submitted, the Project Owners have 30 days to submit responses. After that, the Proposed Final Fish and Wildlife Program and accompanying comments will be sent to the Alaska Energy Authority to compile a report and submit to Governor. The Governor has to October 2, 2024 to make a decision.

While the process is now in the hands of the Governor, in solidarity with our neighbors at the Native Village of Eklutna, we pledge to continue our pursuit to reclaim the Municipality's vote and develop a transparent solution that reflects the voices, needs and values of the residents of Anchorage.

 

MOA Elections

Now, to my final announcement about municipal elections for this election season. You should have all received your ballot in the mail for the Mayoral runoff election. Ballots must be returned by May 14, and as always, you'll have three options to return your ballot: by mail, into a dropbox, or to an Anchorage Vote Center. You can visit www.muni.org/elections to find more information and request a new ballot if you haven't received one.



April 23, 2024

​View the recording of the remarks. 

Good evening everyone and welcome. 

Eklutna River Restoration
Last Friday, the Assembly held a worksession where we heard from the Native Village of Eklutna on their new alternative for the Draft Fish and Wildlife Program. The Native Village of Eklutna’s alternative plan is a really elegant and intelligent solution and compromise that addresses the concerns of the electric utilities, protects our drinking water and maintains the energy source, while also developing a path forward to eventual restoration of the Eklutna River for all five species of salmon, as contemplated in the 1991 Agreement.

I know that for many following this issue, the legal matters have become overly complex, so I want to bring this back to the essence of the situation:
 
  • ​For nearly a century, migration of Eklutna River salmon has been blocked by hydroelectric dams and impacted by water diversions that have badly degraded the condition of the river and uprooted the cultural traditions of the Dena’ina people of this area. 
  • We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to right this wrong and do something that benefits our entire community by restoring the Eklutna River.
  • Two private electric companies are rushing to push their solution that has very little public support, that jeopardizes Anchorage’s water rights for years to come, and puts Municipal taxpayers on the hook for an expensive solution that stops a mile short of full river restoration, and has no way for public officials to provide input on the solution.
  • And instead of acting transparently and representing the people of Anchorage, Mayor Bronson is working with the electric companies behind closed doors on a deal that is not in the best interests of the people of the Municipality.
  • I know it seems like the Assembly is getting into the weeds with legal maneuvers, but we are jumping through all of these hoops because it is SO important. 
  • In addition to advocating for the restoration of the Eklutna River, our community’s water rights and property tax bills for years to come are on the line, and that is why we are fighting so hard to pause this project until we can all work together on a comprise that is transparent and beneficial for our community and our economy.
Anchorage Priorities in Juneau
Next, as the final days of the legislative session wind down, Assembly Members are busy working with the Administration behind the scenes to advocate for Anchorage’s legislative requests. Specifically, the ask for $4 million to fund operations of the 56th Avenue Shelter over the summer so we can avoid turning hundreds of people onto the streets after municipal funding runs out at the end of May. 

We are also advocating for SB77, a bill that will give the Municipality more tools to incentive housing development and deal with blighted properties, and we are also advocating for full funding for the Community Assistance Program, one of the few remaining ways that the State funds local governments.

The Municipality received funding through the Senate’s capital budget for some very important road, water, and park projects, so I am hopeful those remain in the budget and we can see ground breakings on those projects in the next year.

I encourage everyone to contact your state legislators to let them know the issues that are important to you for them to address with their remaining days in the 2024 legislative session. 

MOA Elections
Next, municipal elections. With tonight’s election certification, we will soon be in a run-off election for voters to elect our Mayor. Here are some items of note for the runoff election: 

  • Sign up for BallotTrax to get text or email updates on the status of your ballot: anchoragevotes.com. I love this feature—I get an update when my ballot is on its’ way to me, when it’s been received at the MOA Election Center and when my signature has been verified, so I know my vote counts. 
  • Visit www.muni.org/elections to learn more about the MOA Election Center and find the resources you need, like links to register, track your ballot, tour the election center and more!
  • Return your runoff ballot by May 14. As always, you’ll have three options to return your ballot: by mail, into a dropbox, or to an Anchorage Vote Center. 
Voting local hits close to home. This is where we can really make a difference for our businesses, our families, our neighborhoods, and our roads that we all rely upon. 

Food for Thought
Finally, the Assembly has been engaging in a monthly session that we call Food for Thought, or what I like to call, What’s Good Anchorage. 

So often we focus on the issues that are challenging our community, but we don’t spend enough time talking about the good things that are happening. And so, to that end, and on a positive note, we had a really good Food for Thought session last Friday on Housing Success Stories.

Our community focuses on the people we see living on the streets and in parks (and rightly so), but what we don’t see are all of the people who are moving off the streets, or who never end up there in the first place because of important safety nets that our community has launched in the last few years to house our most vulnerable neighbors. Whether it’s with the United Way, the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness, a small project at a community church, or the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, people are working from the local to the state, and even the federal government to make sure we make a difference in our housing struggles.

We have some people and organizations doing incredible work and it’s important to step back and celebrate that work. If you missed the session, you can find the recording on the Assembly’s YouTube channel. I highly encourage you to watch this very uplifting session.


April 9, 2024

​View the recording of the remarks. 

Good evening everyone and welcome. 

Congratulations to Chief Kerle
Chief Kerle, I’d like to thank you personally for your life of service to this Municipality. While I’m not so pleased about the abrupt departure, I know that Anchorage is a better community because of your service. We’ve seen a lot of very challenging times together, and you’ve seen many more than I’ve been around. And so, with that, I have much gratitude for your service. 

And I do welcome the new appointee for Chief of Police, Captain Bianca Cross. As many know, Chief of Police is a tough job and it takes incredible fortitude to step into the role. I’m looking forward to reviewing the qualifications and experience of Ms. Cross and having some robust conversations about her positions and perspectives on the helm of our police force moving forward. It’s a $130M organization, it takes a lot of experience to lead, and I look forward to learning more about that experience.

Youth Representatives
Tonight is the last meeting for our youth representative, Jesse Tyrell and our alternate representative Jake Matthews. They have both served honorably over the past year and I thank them for their service. The job of youth representative is a lot of responsibility and requires long hours, including late into the night on school nights. Both Jesse and Jake put in a lot of hard work and did a great job representing the youth of Anchorage in our policy discussions at Assembly meetings, and they helped members and our community know more about issues and events of importance to our young people. We will all miss working with you but hope to see you in the future and we wish you the best in your future endeavors.

Recruitment is open for a youth representative for the 2024-25 school year and the position now includes a small stipend. You can visit the Youth Rep page on the Assembly website or go directly to ancgov.info/youthvoice for more information or to apply. The deadline for applications is April 30th. 

Assembly Annual Progress Report
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to share the Assembly’s Annual Progress Report at the Anchorage Chamber Make it Monday forum. The Assembly, with thanks to the Administration and our partners, saw progress in all of our 2023 priorities, including advancement of the Port of Alaska modernization, passage of several initiatives to spur housing development, expansion of the Fire Department Mobile Crisis Team and Police Department Mobile Intervention Team, passage of the “Open Checkbook” to create an online dashboard of municipal spending, and nearly one hundred percent recovery from FEMA of the funds we spent on the pandemic.

Our priorities in 2024 include continuing our work on Housing Action and the Port Modernization, as well as strengthening the municipal workforce, ensuring delivery of quality municipal services, and advancing public health, safety, and quality of life for all residents in our community.

You can learn more about the Assembly’s 2024 priorities at muni.org/assembly. 

State Legislative Request for Shelter
Over the past few months, the Mayor and Assembly have been working very hard to secure a targeted funding request to the State Legislature for $4M to keep our shelter operating year-round. Our ask is that the State recognizes that homelessness is a statewide issue whose costs are disproportionately felt by Anchorage taxpayers and residents. Without state funding, the Municipality would be forced to close the 56th Avenue shelter on May 31st because we do not have the resources to operate this facility year-round without making other cuts.

I want to thank Representative Josephson for bringing forward an amendment in the Finance Committee to add this funding to the budget, and to Representatives Coulombe, Galvin, Hannan, Ortiz and Edgmon for voting in favor of the amendment. We are thankful to the House Finance Committee for supporting this important ask that the State share the cost of a statewide problem. We are hopeful it will remain in the budget, but we know it has a long way to go – passage by the House, passage by the Senate, inclusion in the final FY25 budget, and then surviving any potential veto action by the Governor.

Also, a huge thanks to Assembly Member Anna Brawley, Chair of the Legislative Committee, who has been spearheading our efforts in Juneau.

MOA Elections
Finally, I want to highlight the exemplary work of the MOA Elections Team. 

Our nonpartisan election officials are committed to making Anchorage the best place to vote-at-home, and they are doing a really good job. More than 70,000 residents returned their mailed ballot package by Election Day last week, making up over 95% of the ballots received at the MOA Election Center. Those remaining few came from the three Anchorage Vote Centers that open for the week before Election Day. 

It takes a lot of hard work by a dedicated team of professionals to pull off secure, accessible elections—and they’re about to do it all over again. Our Municipal Charter requires that our mayor be elected by at least 45% of the vote, plus one. If the election is certified by the Assembly on April 23rd, and I expect that it will, the elections team will kick off a runoff election for voters to elect our Mayor. Here’s what to expect in a runoff election: 

  • Register to vote or update your registration by April 14. Even if you weren’t registered for the Regular Election, you can register for the runoff. 
  • Sign up for BallotTrax to get text or email updates on the status of your ballot: anchoragevotes.com. I love this feature—I get an update when my ballot is on its’ way to me, when it’s been received at the MOA Election Center and when my signature has been verified, so I know my vote counts. 
  • Visit www.muni.org/elections to learn more about the MOA Election Center and find the resources you need, like links to register, track your ballot, tour the election center and more!
  • Return your runoff ballot by May 14. As always, you’ll have three options to return your ballot: by mail, into a dropbox, or to an Anchorage Vote Center. 

Voting local hits close to home. This is where we can really make a difference. Your local businesses, your families, your neighborhoods, your roads all rely on your voice in this election. 

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