2 will vie for Chugiak-Eagle River Assembly seat after Trotter withdraws from race
Anchorage Assembly candidate Clayton Trotter has withdrawn from the race, leaving two candidates for the open Chugiak-Eagle River seat in April’s election. Trotter withdrew his name from the ballot Tuesday, meaning Crystal Kennedy and Oliver Schiess will compete for a District 2 seat on the 11-member board.
Trotter told District 13 and 14 Republicans he was stepping aside during its regular meeting Tuesday night at Piccolino’s Restaurant. Both he and the local Republican Party then endorsed Kennedy in the race.
The seat is currently held by Gretchen Wehmhoff, who was selected by the Assembly to serve out the term of Amy Demboski after Demboski resigned to take a job as deputy chief of staff for Gov. Mike Dunleavy in December. Wehmhoff vowed not to seek election if she was chosen for the seat. Fred Dyson also represents Chugiak-Eagle River on the Assembly; his term expires in 2020.
On Wednesday, Kennedy said she spoke with Trotter about a week before he withdrew and found they shared similar views on most issues.
“We basically see eye to eye on a lot of things,” she said.
She said she thought Trotter made a “gracious” move by stepping aside in order not to split the vote in Eagle River, which traditionally supports Republican candidates in partisan elections and has an all-Republican delegation in the Alaska Legislature.
Although she acknowledged the Assembly race is nonpartisan, Kennedy said “everyone knows its not” and thinks it’s important to draw a distinction between herself and Schiess, who ran as a Democrat for State Senate.
Schiess said he doesn’t think political affiliation should be much of an issue in the campaign.
“I’m not against anyone,” he said. “I’m just excited to run.”
Both remaining candidates’ websites tout their “conservative” ideals. Kennedy’s says she’s a “Respected Conservative Community Leader,” while Schiess says on his that “as a Fiscal Conservative, I understand that we cannot spend $10 if we only have $7 in the bank and we should not cut $5 if it costs us $10 tomorrow.”
Kennedy and Schiess said Trotter’s withdrawl won’t change how they approach the campaign. Both attended Wednesday’s Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce meeting and said they look forward to a cordial and spirited race.
“I think we’re going to have a good time,” said Schiess, a former Marine who moved to Eagle River in 2015 and works as a senior logistician on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
Kennedy is a former Anchorage School Board member who moved to Eagle River in the mid-90s. She currently serves on the Eagle River Valley Community Council and chairs the Chugiak Birchwood Eagle River Rural Road Service Area Board. Kennedy said her long-time experience in the community will make a difference on the Assembly.
“We’re not Anchorage,” she said. “We have to go tell them that on the Assembly.”
Schiess told the chamber he wants to bring new energy to the Assembly. The Seattle native ran unsuccessfully for State Senate last fall, and said he’s committed to serving his adopted hometown.
“I told you all back in November I was just getting wound up,” he said.
The election is April 2, but by mail ballots will be sent out soon. The deadline to register is March 3. To register online, visit voterregistration.alaska.gov.