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VICTORY: Anchorage Voters Defeat Proposition 1!

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Anchorage voters have defeated Proposition 1—the dangerous initiative that sought to repeal basic protections for our transgender neighbors, family and friends under municipal law.

With 76K+ votes in, our NO campaign is leading by 52.7%, with only 47.3% voting Yes. So while the municipality will not certify the election results until next Friday, we are confident that, at this point, it would be impossible for Prop 1 to pass.

This historic vote showed that voters in our city rejected fear and intimidation to affirm that transgender people, like everyone else, should be afforded the same dignity and respect as everyone else. Anchorage is now the first municipality in the country in recent years to uphold protections for transgender people at the ballot!

“This groundbreaking, first-of-its-kind victory could never have happened without the hard work and courage of transgender people and their families in Anchorage who shared their experiences and stories of how Prop 1 would impact them,” said Kati Ward, campaign manager of Fair Anchorage. “When we learned last year that Proposition 1 might be on the ballot, we began to create a coalition like our city has never seen before. We brought together a powerful alliance of bipartisan elected officials, businesses, faith leaders, safety advocates, women, educators, and families to send the message that Anchorage values freedom for all. This is a victory not only for transgender people, but for their allies and everyone who is proud to call Anchorage a welcoming place.”

Our fight began in earnest in July of last year, after our opponents’ signature count was determined valid, and Proposition 1 was confirmed to qualify for the ballot. Immediately, we went to work developing our campaign’s infrastructure, building the resources and staff we would need to fight against Prop 1. We built our initial war chest, and started to engage people around the community in working to defend our transgender friends and neighbors.

Throughout our campaign, we were able to consistently amplify the stories and lived experiences of transgender people. Two members of our campaign leadership Denise Sudbeck and Lillian Lennon, both shared their stories of overcoming adversity to help shepherd our campaign to success. We heard from a variety of people, from activist MoHagani Magnetek to Samuel Ohana, who was discriminated against at his job. One of our most effective messengers, high school student Col Lockard, bravely appeared in one of our television ads, telling Anchorage his fears and concerns about Prop 1 becoming law. In addition, we saw a moving piece from Andrea Redeker, a local transgender woman who canvassed in the final days to defeat Proposition 1.

To every transgender person who shared your story and spoke out against Proposition 1: This is your victory. Thank you for your courage and bravery..

This campaign also built one of the strongest coalitions our city has ever seen, with families, businesses, faith leaders, public officials, educators and safety advocates standing together to oppose Prop 1. Over 40 businesses would announce their endorsement of our campaign as we continued through the many months, joined by both the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce and the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation. In March, we featured perhaps our most launched our 2nd TV ad of the campaign featuring Keeley Olsen, executive director of Standing Up Against Rape (STAR), Anchorage’s leading group providing support, resources and information for victims of sexual violence. In the ad, Olsen dispels the myth that transgender people are a safety risk, emphasizing that in the 18 states and over 200 cities where similar nondiscrimination protections are in effect, there has not been a single uptick in public safety incidents. Statewide safety agencies such as Alaska Children’s Trust would also speak out against backers of Prop 1, saying their messaging was having a negative impact on children. Most recently, over 110 bipartisan community leaders came together to oppose Prop 1 in the final days of the campaign.

“Today Anchorage voters rejected fear and intimidation to affirm that everyone in our city should have the same fundamental dignity and protection under the law,” said Lillian Lennon, field organizer for Fair Anchorage, the campaign to defeat Proposition 1. “As a transgender woman, this victory is deeply personal to me and to so many of us in the transgender community. It means voters saw past misleading tactics by opponents of transgender equality in order to treat people like me fairly. In a world that can be so hostile to transgender people in our daily lives, to know that the city of Anchorage has our backs means everything. I’m grateful to the voters, volunteers and hard-working supporters of our campaign who worked tirelessly to make this night possible.”

Fair Anchorage is beyond grateful to the hundreds of volunteers who worked with us making calls, knocking doors, and showing up to public events. We also thank the myriad of businesses, public officials, community leaders, and the regular citizens of Anchorage who were willing to use their voices to speak out against discrimination — a particular thank you to the transgender community, who were so willing to share their stories and experiences with the public, and who actively participated in defending municipal protections. We could not have done any of this without everyone’s help.

So many people can rest easier because our nondiscrimination law has been defended, and it is the combined efforts of many that made this possible. Let us never forget what a determined group of people can do to protect one another and stand up for what is right.

Election Night Results: We are hopeful

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With only partial results available, Anchorage municipal officials tonight announced that they have counted 49,806 ballots and that the Proposition 1 election is too close to call. An unknown number of ballots are expected to arrive via the mail in the coming days.

The partial results show that 53.9% of people have voted “No” on Proposition 1 and 46.1% have voted “Yes.” If passed, Prop 1 would remove nondiscrimination protections from Anchorage’s city ordinances.

“As this election comes to a close and the final votes are counted, I hope Anchorage residents are proud of what we’ve accomplished together,” said Kati Ward, campaign manager of Fair Anchorage. “Together, we built one of the most incredible, diverse coalitions that Anchorage has ever seen — with parents and families standing alongside faith leaders, safety advocates, educators and iconic local businesses — united behind the belief that Anchorage is stronger when our laws protect transgender people from discrimination.

“Nothing is final until the last ballot is counted — but based on the current numbers, we are hopeful that a majority of Anchorage voters will reject this divisive measure to roll back basic protections for our transgender neighbors and friends. Our team will continue working to ensure every vote is counted and that the voice of every single Anchorage voter is heard in this historic election, because the stakes are too high for anything less.”

This year marks the first time that Anchorage has implemented a 100 percent vote-by-mail system. Voters must have their ballots postmarked by April 3, or drop off their ballots in one of several dropboxes around the city by 8 p.m. Following Election Day, Anchorage municipal officials have 10 days to continue counting ballots postmarked by April 3 and to certify the election results.

Today is Election Day in Anchorage. Here’s How to Vote No on Prop 1:

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It’s Election Day in Anchorage—the day voters decide the fate of Proposition 1.

If passed, Proposition1 would repeal the basic protections under municipal law that have kept our transgender neighbors and friends safe for the last two years.

A broad coalition has joined together to oppose this initiative—including transgender people, parents, 40+ faith leaders, 50+ businesses, educators, safety advocates and 110+ bipartisan Anchorage leaders. Proposition 1 is discriminatory, unnecessary and unenforceable. And today, we’re hopeful that Anchorage voters will reject it to uphold our existing non-discrimination law.

Because Anchorage’s Municipal Election is 100% vote-by-mail, there are not polling locations like past elections.

All ballots must be postmarked by today or returned by 8pm to one of 12 ballot return boxes across Anchorage: 

  • Anchorage School District Education Center, 5530 East Northern Lights Boulevard
  • Bartlett High School, 1101 Golden Bear Drive
  • Clark Middle School, 150 Bragaw Street
  • Dimond High School, 2909 West 88th Avenue
  • Fairview Community Recreation Center, 1121 East 10th Avenue
  • Loussac Library, 3600 Denali Street
  • Service High School, 5577 Abbott Road
  • Spenard Community Recreation Center, 2020 West 48th Avenue
  • UAA Alaska Airlines Center, 3550 Providence Drive
  • Eagle River Town Center, 12001 Business Boulevard
  • Girdwood Community Center, 250 Egloff Drive
  • South Anchorage High School, 13400 Elmore Road

The fate of non-discrimination protections for transgender youth like Col hang in the balance as the ballots come in today. Let’s affirm that discrimination has no place in Anchorage—and that every Alaskan should be afforded the same privacy and dignity under the law:

 

Five Reasons You Should Vote No on Proposition 1

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In tomorrow’s election, Anchorage voters will decide the fate of our municipality’s non-discrimination protections for our transgender neighbors, family and friends. Here are five reasons you should vote NO on Proposition 1.

1. Transgender People Deserve the Same Protections As Everyone Else Under Anchorage Law

Since 2015, transgender people have been afforded the same nondiscrimination protections as everyone else under municipal law and in that time, there has not been a single negative effect as a result. Transgender people simply want the same rights afforded to all other people — the ability to live openly and participate fully in the world, without the fear of being harassed, intimidated, or vulnerable to violence. Furthermore, they should have the same security as everyone else — that when it comes to finding a retaining a job, moving into a residence, or accessing public accommodations, they won’t be discriminated against or turned away simply for being who they are.

2. Proposition 1 Would Harm Transgender Youth

If basic protections for transgender people under Anchorage law are repealed, it’s transgender students who would be the most impacted. Current municipal law ensures protections for transgender students in Anchorage’s public schools. The Anchorage Education Association has already come out in a statement saying that Prop 1 is dangerous, and does not align with the values of the school district.

Transgender youth are most vulnerable in instances of discrimination, and feel that their school does not have their best interests or well-being in mind. Growing up in a municipality that would openly vote to strip you of your rights would no doubt harm students across Anchorage.

Fair Anchorage featured a family, the Lockards, in a series of television and web ads where their transgender son Col spoke out about why keeping these protections in place is vital for his safety:

“I’m scared that if Proposition 1 passes, I would be bullied and harassed, and forced to use the girls’ restroom at school.”

Another transgender student, C.J. Gillis, also spoke out in an interview with KTVA, where he and his family spoke about C.J.’s coming out process, as well as why it is safest and most logical for C.J. to use the boys’ restroom, as it corresponds to his gender identity.

3. Proposition 1 Won’t Make Anchorage Safer

Our opponents have continually pushed a false narrative that transgender people are dangerous and to be feared, and that ensuring everyone can use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity poses a severe security risk, mostly to women and girls. However, we know nothing could be further from the truth. In the 18 states and over 200 cities—including Anchorage—where similar nondiscrimination protections are in effect, there has not been a single uptick in public safety incidents.

Anchorage Police Chief Justin Doll testified before the Anchorage General Assembly that he and his department see “no concern” about transgender people in public bathrooms, and that were it to pass, he “doesn’t [sic] have the staff to post an officer at every bathroom” to enforce the initiative as written. Additionally, President of the Anchorage Local Firefighters Union, Mike Stambaugh, addresses his organization’s disapproval in a strongly worded letter to the editor underscoring that basic protections for our transgender neighbors does not pose a threat to public safety..

Perhaps the most powerful voice has been that of Keeley Olson, the executive director of Standing Up Against Rape (STAR), Anchorage’s leading group providing resources, support, and care for victims of sexual violence. Olsen has compellingly made the argument that women and girls are no less safe with transgender women having access to women’s bathrooms and locker rooms, and that, “ensuring dignity to transgender people is not a threat to public safety.”

Additional groups including the Alaska Children’s Trust, Alaska Children’s Alliance, and Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault have criticized the efforts of Prop 1 proponents, warning that misleading messaging guiding this initiative is doing the most damage to children in Anchorage.

4. Parents and Teachers Across Anchorage Are Voting NO

Proposition 1 would put real families—and young people—in danger across Anchorage. That’s why a broad coalition of families and educators have joined us in speaking out against this discriminatory initiative, urging Anchorage voters to reject Prop 1 to keep our students safe.

The Lockard family put their story front and center, and have spoken to people across the city about what it is like to raise a transgender child and be concerned for their safety. Additionally, many of the women of Anchorage featured in one of our ads are mothers themselves, who believe that all children should grow up in a city that affords dignity and respect to everyone who calls Anchorage home, regardless of who they are or how they identify.

And while the Anchorage School District is legally prohibited from taking a stance on ballot initiatives, Dr. Deena Bishop, Anchorage City School superintendent,  explained at a School Board meeting earlier this year that the current law protecting transgender students is working well—and that if Proposition 1 were to pass, the Anchorage School District would not “stand guard at the bathroom doors” to enforce discrimination against transgender students. Additionally, several individual teachers have spoken out against the need for Prop 1, saying it would have long-lasting, negative consequences on students.

Carol Comeau, former head superintendent of the Anchorage School District, says not only is this cruel—it’s against the mission of the Anchorage School District.

“The mission of the Anchorage School District is ‘To educate ALL students for success in life,’” she says, quoting the motto she’s had memorized for more than 30 years. “The ALL is in caps for a reason. Every student should be able to go to school to focus on learning, not being targeted for discrimination because of their gender identity.”

5. Proposition 1 Will Harm Anchorage’s Economy

Anchorage stands to sustain a severe economic loss if this discriminatory ballot measure passes this week.

On February 5, the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce released a statement opposing Proposition 1. The group, which has represented over 900 businesses and their 50,000 employees in Anchorage for over 100 years, said partly:

“The Anchorage Chamber of Commerce believes that passing Proposition 1 would be detrimental to business in the city. Many conferences and potential new business would be lost due to this discriminatory legislation which would convey the message that Anchorage is not a welcoming city.”

Shortly following the Chamber’s announcement, the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation sent a letter to its Board of Directors, stating:

“AEDC believes this initiative would inflict unnecessary discrimination on members of the community, and that it solves no evident problem that has been created by the original passage of the anti-discrimination ordinance. Moreover, this ordinance would have significant negative economic impacts on our city, the largest economy in the state.”

Over 40 local businesses—including staples of Anchorage like Beartooth, Snow City Cafe and Fire Island Rustic Bakery–also joined together in a coalition and announced their combined support for a No vote.

Election Day is next TOMORROW. All ballots must be postmarked or returned to a ballot drop box by 8pm on Tuesday night. Click here to visit our Election Center for all the information you need.

Anchorage, let’s stand together to keep discrimination out of our city!

110+ Bipartisan Anchorage Community Leaders Oppose Prop 1, Urge NO Vote

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A bipartisan group of more than 110 Anchorage community leaders have announced that they oppose Proposition 1, the ballot measure that would repeal Anchorage’s two-year-old transgender nondiscrimination law.

“Proposition 1 is one of the most divisive, harmful initiatives I’ve seen on the ballot in our beloved city,” said Arliss Sturgulewski, a former Republican state Senator who served for nearly 15 years. “Other cities have passed initiatives like Prop 1, and we have seen the consequence: businesses, tourists, and major events went elsewhere. This spring we have a chance to learn from their mistakes. We’ll say loud and clear that although Anchorage is welcoming, we do not welcome discrimination.”

Bill Evans, the Republican Assembly member who authored Anchorage’s nondiscrimination law, said, “There have been no problems associated with bathroom use the past two years. Do not abandon this common-sense, realistic and workable approach. Vote NO on Prop 1.”

“Proposition 1 is about vilifying a group of people who are different,” said Ron McGee, former spokesperson of the Anchorage Police Department. “We all know these people; they are our sons and daughters, the kid who grew up down the street from us, or that young person who just got hired at your work. I choose to love these people, not make them into outcasts. That’s why I’m voting no against Proposition 1 on April 3.”

“If there were public safety problems from the law, I would support changes,” said Paul Honeman, former APD police officer and former Anchorage Assembly member. “But it is extremely clear that Anchorage has not had safety problems from our equality ordinance.”

“Proposition 1 is unethical and unnecessary,” said Andrew Halcro, former Republican state legislator. “I find it absolutely insulting.”

30 other businesses, including the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce and the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation, who are urging voters to vote No on Prop 1.

Earlier this week, the Anchorage Education Association, the largest organization of teachers in Alaska with more than 13,000 members, announced its opposition to Proposition 1, stating that it would harm students and leave them feeling unsafe in school. Dr. Deena Bishop, superintendent of Anchorage City Schools, also added her voice to the chorus of opposition. More than 40 faith leaders have called the initiative “discriminatory and harmful” to transgender people in Anchorage. Anchorage’s leading experts working on behalf of safety and privacy for women are also opposing Proposition 1.

Three Anchorage Teachers Explain Why They’re Voting No on Prop 1

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Next Tuesday, we will find out the results of our campaign to defeat Prop 1, which would eliminate  basic protections for our transgender friends, family, and neighbors under Anchorage law.

Ahead of the vote, the Anchorage Education Association, representing more than 3,000 teachers across the city, voiced opposition the ballot measure. In a statement, the group offered:

“The members of the Anchorage Education Association are proud to stand with business and community groups in saying ‘No’ to Proposition 1. Anchorage’s non-discrimination ordinance protects everyone, but it’s particularly important for students we serve every day,” said Tom Klaameyer, President of the Anchorage Education Association. “Our educators will always stand up for students and make sure that they are safe and respected in all Anchorage schools.”

Adding their voices to the campaign are three teachers in Anchorage, all who feel that transgender people are entitled to dignity and respect, and how they believe taking away the existing protections would negatively impact their students.

“I’m voting No on Prop 1 because I want our schools to remain safe, inclusive and welcoming for ALL students.” — Sara Dykstra

“As educators, we encourage all our students to be their true selves and we celebrate their uniqueness and diversity. Shouldn’t our students who are transgender be included in that? Proposition 1 would require schools to discriminate against students who are transgender and Anchorage students deserve far better than that!” — Shauna Booton

“As a teacher in Anchorage, I believe that my students have a right to feel safe not just here at school but also in our community. I am voting No on Prop 1 because I respect my trans students and community members rights to privacy and safety. No one should ever force you to prove anything when you are engaging in a basic need like going to the bathroom. Prop 1 doesn’t represent the values of our community or our state.” — Michaela Hernandez

Election Day is this coming Tuesday, April 3. Ballots must be postmarked before then, or placed in an official ballot drop box before 8:00 pm that day. To learn more, visit our Election Center.

NEW AD: Alaska Natives Urge a No Vote on Proposition 1

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In a new ad released today by Fair Anchorage, the campaign to defend protections for transgender people that have been in effect since 2015, Alaska Natives speak out against Proposition 1, urging a no vote, and reminding us that discrimination is not an Alaska value.

The ad features members of the Alaska Native community, who speak themselves about the pride they take in their heritage—and also their very real experiences of being singled out for discrimination. Although our opposition has tried to frame Proposition 1 as a safety issue, one of the subjects in our ad offers the following, a message that has been at the center of our campaign since day one: “Equal treatment under the law is a right every Alaskan should enjoy.”

This group of voices joins an already mighty chorus in speaking out against LGBTQ discrimination. Previously, women of Anchorage, faith leaders, and safety advocates have all spoken out against the harmful ballot measure.

Throughout our campaign, we have been building coalitions of diverse groups in order to help convince voters that Prop 1 is dangerous, and would have a devastating effect on Anchorage’s transgender community.

Advocates like Keeley Olsen, executive director of Standing Up Against Rape (STAR) have made the case that Prop 1 is not a safety issue, and that since the law went into effect in 2015, there has been no uptick in public safety incidents.

Children’s groups like Alaska Family Trust have also said that the negative messaging being disseminated by our opponents is ultimately harmful to children. Additionally, Dr. Deena Bishop, superintendent of Anchorage Public Schools, and the Anchorage Education Association have both gone on record as vehemently against Prop 1 due to the negative effects it would have on students.

Businesses have also made the case that passing Prop 1 would have a negative impact on Anchorage’s large tourism economy, and make it difficult to attract and retain new business. The Anchorage Chamber of Commerce and the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation have both openly opposed the measure.

Ballots for the municipal elections were mailed out March 13 and must be postmarked before April 3, or returned to an official ballot box by 8:00 pm that evening. Visit our Election Center for details, and to find a ballot box near you!

Anchorage Education Association Urges No Vote on Prop 1

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The Anchorage Education Association (AEA), which represents thousands of students across the city, today announced its opposition to Proposition 1 in Anchorage.

Prop 1 would repeal nondiscrimination protections already in place for transgender people, and would allow anyone to demand a person produce their birth certificate before being allowed into a bathroom. These protections have been in effect since 2015, and in that time, there has been no uptick in public safety incidents — a fact that Anchorage Chief of Police Justin Doll testified to late last year.

“The members of the Anchorage Education Association are proud to stand with business and community groups in saying ‘No’ to Proposition 1. Anchorage’s non-discrimination ordinance protects everyone, but it’s particularly important for students we serve every day,” said Tom Klaameyer, President of the Anchorage Education Association. “Our educators will always stand up for students and make sure that they are safe and respected in all Anchorage schools.”

The AEA’s decision follows an earlier statement given by Dr. Deena Bishop, superintendent of Anchorage School District. While the district is legally prohibited from taking positions on ballot initiatives, Superintendent Bishop made it clear that these existing protections have worked well for the past two years and that if passed, Prop 1 could not be enforced in Anchorage schools:

“The enforcement of this policy is not possible. We will not stand guard at our restroom doors. So as we move forward and learn what this brings to us, we are keeping student safety in mind. There is nothing in the budget that moves forward anyone to play the role of law enforcement in the restroom.”

In addition, AEA members have also offered their support:

“I’m voting No on Prop 1 because I want our schools to remain safe, inclusive and welcoming for ALL students.” — Sara Dykstra

“As educators, we encourage all our students to be their true selves and we celebrate their uniqueness and diversity. Shouldn’t our students who are transgender be included in that? Proposition 1 would require schools to discriminate against students who are transgender and Anchorage students deserve far better than that!” — Shauna Booton

“As a teacher in Anchorage I believe that my students have a right to feel safe not just here at school but also in our community. I am voting No on Prop 1 because I respect my trans students and community members rights to privacy and safety. No one should ever force you to prove anything when you are engaging in a basic need like going to the bathroom. Prop 1 doesn’t represent the values of our community or our state.” — Michaela Hernandez

The coalition against Prop 1 continues to grow, and includes faith leaders, safety advocates, law enforcement professionals, and businesses throughout Anchorage. Click here to visit our videos page, and see those taking a stand against Prop 1.

Fair Anchorage thanks the AEA for encouraging the people of Anchorage of Vote No on Prop 1.

Yes on Prop 1 Campaign Deceives Voters for the Second Time in a Week

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The Yes on Prop 1 Campaign has found itself in hot water for the second time in a week, after it was discovered a new ad highlighting an incident at an Anchorage homeless shelter used the image of the shelter without permission.

Charlee Lauree, a spokesperson for Downtown Hope Shelter said in an article featured on Into, “What Jim Minnery and Prop 1 did, they did without talking to us,” Lauree says.

Kevin Clarkson, an attorney for the Downtown Hope Center, previously told the Anchorage Daily News that a transgender woman came to the shelter after it was closed, which is part of the reason she was not admitted. The shelter has since clarified that it follows Anchorage municipal code and has housed transgender women in the past. Alaska Family Action conceded on Facebook on March 8th, “This complaint will likely be dismissed based on what actually transpired.”

Our campaign manager Kati Ward, No on Prop 1 responded in a statement:

“Proponents of Prop 1 are using their new ad to take advantage of a vulnerable transgender woman seeking refuge at a homeless shelter during a difficult time. Anchorage’s leading safety advocates agree our nondiscrimination law has led to no rise in public safety concerns. No one was hurt in this incident, and a complaint was filed and is being processed, meaning the law is working exactly as it should. Exploiting a homeless shelter and a transgender woman without their permission in an attempt to deceive voters is cruel. Anchorage voters value dignity and fairness for everyone, including transgender people, and won’t be fooled by these misleading tactics.”

This is the second time an ad from Yes on Prop 1 has come under fire for being deceptive. Just last week, an ad featuring a supposed Alaskan woman named “Kate” was found out to instead feature an actress living in the Lower 48. This means to date, our opposition has yet to find any Alaskans willing to comment on the record in an ad in favor of Prop 1.

Conversely, all of Fair Anchorage’s ads have featured Anchorage locals, including faith leaders, women, and families. Visit our videos page to view all of our ads.

No On Prop 1 has featured the voices of leading safety advocates including Alaska Children’s Trust, Mike Stumbaugh, President of Anchorage Firefighters Local Union 1264, and executive director of Standing Up Against Rape, Keeley Olson, all with the same message — that the protections for transgender people in Anchorage, in place since 2015, have not resulted in any uptick in public safety incidents, as is the case in the over 200 cities and 18 states with similar protections.

In addition, the No on Prop 1 campaign has been endorsed by entities including the Anchorage Education Association, the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, and the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation, as well as dozens of businesses and faith leaders.

Anchorage voters have just over one week to turn in their ballots by mail for the municipal election. Ballots must be postmarked before April 3, or placed in an official ballot dropbox by 8:00 pm that evening. Visit our Election Center to learn more, and to find a ballot box near you.