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Alaska mayor who wanted to give the homeless a one-way ticket out of Anchorage concedes election

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson, who wanted to give the homeless one-way plane tickets out of Alaska’s largest city, has lost his bid for re-election.

Bronson on Thursday conceded this month’s runoff election to his challenger, Suzanne LaFrance.

“After a long and hard-fought campaign, today I called Suzanne LaFrance to congratulate her on becoming the next mayor of Anchorage and to wish her the best as she prepares to assume the responsibility of leading our great city,” Bronson said in a statement.

He also pledged to ensure a smooth transition.

LaFrance, a former chair of the Anchorage Assembly, had claimed victory Tuesday, saying her lead was greater than any outstanding ballots. The two went to a runoff election when neither had more than 45% of the vote among the 10 candidates in the April 2 general election.

In the runoff, LaFrance had 54% of the vote to Bronson’s 46%. The assembly will certify the election May 31, and LaFrance will take office July 1.

Bronson had clashed with the assembly throughout his three years in office. The assembly opened several investigations into allegations of ethics violations and mismanagement.

The conservative Bronson, a registered Republican, complained of the assembly’s “woke” policies, but his tenure was also plagued by clashes with assembly members over how to provide housing for the homeless after a record number of people died outside in the winter of 2022-2023.

His unfunded plan to give one-way airline tickets to people who are homeless didn’t come to fruition, and the city scrambled to open a large shelter before winter set in last October.

Another contentious issue in this year’s mayoral race was snow removal.

The city was deluged by snowstorms in November and many streets were clogged with stuck vehicles because streets had not been plowed.

“We’re a winter city, we know it’s going to snow … and we need to plan for it. And I think that’s what’s so maddening,” LaFrance told the Anchorage Daily News at the time. “It doesn’t have to be this hard.”

Another mayoral candidate, Democrat Chris Tuck, filmed himself plowing part of the street where Bronson lives in a pickup outfitted with a blade.

LaFrance, who is registered as nonpartisan, campaigned to “restore competency” to City Hall.

LaFrance becomes the first female elected mayor of Anchorage, but is not first to serve. Former assembly member Austin Quinn-Davidson became mayor in 2020 when then-Mayor Ethan Berkowitz resigned after a sexting scandal. She did not seek election in 2021.

Associated Press