The Anchorage Mayoral Race is underway. On April 7th, just three weeks away, the city of Anchorage will elect a new mayor, who will serve the city, for better or for worse, for the next two years, starting in July.
There are 11 candidates running for the city’s highest office, which gives you, the voter, a lot of choices. So, how do you know which candidate is right for Anchorage?
To help you solve this question for yourself, KRUA has set out to speak with all the mayoral candidates and to give our listeners the chance to get to know what the candidates stand for and who they really are.
This week, on Getting to Know You, we’re going to hear from mayoral candidate Dustin Darden.
Darden was born and raised in Anchorage. He attended East Anchorage High school and UAA and is a member of Heart of the City Church. Darden works for the city in fleet services, which is the branch of the municipal government that takes care of the vehicles for fire, police, and public transport. He is represented by the IBEW, or International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 1547.
I asked Darden why he decided to run for mayor:
“There is like a burning fire, shot up in my bones, that wants everyone to win in life. To have a tranquil, peaceful, dignified life. And I love this city and all the people that call it home. And I have a vision of this city being even better than it is right now. Not that it’s not good, but I have a vision for it to be better.”
Darden says that he’d like to see more community involvement, from youth to the elderly and everyone in between. He says he would like to see Anchorage’s citizens take full advantage of the liberties they are granted under the United States constitution. Freedom, he says, should reign in Anchorage like it never has before.
Darden says that the biggest issue facing the city of Anchorage is misinformation of the public:
“The biggest challenge is the indoctrination of lies and half-truths that the public has been fed…by a large portion of the city. That’s why I firmly believe education is so important. Regardless of what facet of work you’re in, you’re constantly educating. And going back to our fundamental structure of society, where we have the liberties of freedom of speech and press, freedom of religion, if we just took that and ran with it, we could take this nation back.”
Darden says that Alaska is strategically located. Nestled between North America and Russia, Anchorage could serve as a gateway to the East and Darden believes that, in part because of our location, we can be, in his words, something great.
He says he doesn’t want to do things behind closed doors. Rather, Darden says, he wants the people to be engaged.
“I’ve heard this before ‘vote for your paycheck, vote for what’s going to cause you to have an income, forget the other issues there. What’s going to keep you employed?’ And I’ve heard this so long. And I don’t agree with that.”
Darden says that if the voter disregards social issues and simply votes for his paycheck, than the voter is tacitly condoning actions that take place on those issues he disregarded. One social issue that Darden is particularly concerned with is abortion.
Darden says, “I completely do not condone abortion.”
Another issue that Darden doesn’t support is gay marriage. Although he says that he believes LGBT people deserve to be treated with dignity, he says he thinks the word marriage should be reserved for a man and a woman.
What he does support, Darden says, is organized labor:
“I’m for the working person. And when I say working person, I mean from conception all the way up to adulthood. But that innocent life in the womb, that innocent life, I believe that there is one very special person that wants somebody to fight for them. If I was in that womb, I’d want somebody in my corner, fighting for me, above everything else. And, I’m hearing people say ‘Yeah, let go ahead and stand up for them.’ So, I’m reaching out, even in this process.
Am I hoping to win this election? Yes. Do I anticipate victory? Yes. Do I think that I could work along side, go arm in arm, hand in hand with the other people that are running and say ‘Hey, let’s agree on this thing. Let’s hash this out: we were all born; why don’t we just go ahead and embrace that and say, there’s some other people that are wantin’ to be born, too.’ So, lets go ahead and just let ‘er rip.”
When I spoke with Darden, he was kicking off a forty-day For-Life campaign. I headed down to Lake Otis and 40th to check it out, but the solitary man I met there wasn’t acquainted with Darden.
Darden says he believes in forgiveness for those who had abortions:
“If some one is listening to this and has had an abortion. And you understand, it was wrong, that’s all good. And there’s condemnation, but Jesus, about 2,015 years ago, came, bore all the sins of the world, and paid for those sins. When you repent and say ‘God, I believe you died for my sins, I ask you into my heart.’ He will forgive you.”
Although Darden says he realizes that abortion may not be generally considered a local issue, he thinks that as mayor, he would be able to bring about change by influencing public opinion.
Darden also sees homelessness as a troubling social issue in Anchorage.
Darden says, “Anybody you see walking down 4th Avenue between the soup kitchen and the Brother Francis Shelter and Bean’s Cafe…and living on Karluck…they’re all created in the image of God. And they all have the same opportunities as you and I. And I am completely open to ideas, I don’t know one solution. It’s going to take a community to address that issue.
He says that just keeping people on the streets warm without taking money from tax payers is an important goal.
I also asked Darden about his stance on marijuana legalization. He says that legal prescription drugs can be dangerous as well, and he thinks that’s something that should be addressed. As for marijuana, he says like anything it can be abused, but it can also be used in a responsible way. Marijuana, Darden says, also has multiple purposes, including hemp seeds, paper, and cloth. Darden says smoke in a persons lungs, regardless of the origin of that smoke, isn’t good.
He says, “but as far as what I voted for, I voted Yes. Because I’m a gardener, and I grow things, and I’m a healthy eater and I eat hemp seeds. And I like ’em…I used to smoke weed, you know. I don’t smoke weed any more. Why? Because it makes you stupid.”
Darden says, politically, he’s an Undecided. He says he doesn’t like the idea of throwing himself in a basket of someone else’s ideas and saying that’s who he is. He says his political platform is based on the right to life and standing up for organized labor. “I’m, like, all for labor, and I’m on fire for babies to be alive,” Darden says. “And I love Jesus, and I haven’t found that in a donkey or an elephant, so far.”
If you look around town, you might see his home-made campaign signs, complete with smiley-faces.
You’ve been listening to Dustin Darden, candidate for Anchorage mayor. I’m Mariah Brashar for KRUA 88.1