The question of whether the Chugiak-Eagle River area should be part of the Municipality of Anchorage (MOA) has been a contentious issue for decades. In 1969 the idea to consolidate the Anchorage Borough with the City of Anchorage took root. The very next year Chugiak-Eagle River residents overwhelmingly voted against consolidating with the City of Anchorage, confirming their desire for local control over matters relating to the Chugiak-Eagle River area.
As written by the late Lee Jordan in the November 3, 2016 edition of Echo Magazine “Against their will, Chugiak-Eagle River became part of the Greater Anchorage Area Borough (GAAB).” During formation of the MOA, which combined the City of Anchorage with the GAAB, Chugiak-Eagle River residents again attempted to break from Anchorage by establishing the Chugiak-Eagle River Borough in 1974. Lee Jordan was elected as the first Mayor, while seven borough assembly members and five school board members were also elected.
Formation of the new Borough was objected to by some. As is the American tradition, a lawsuit was filed to reverse the vote of the people. On April 15, 1975 the Alaska Supreme Court found that the legislation which allowed for the secession election “was unconstitutional.” But it wasn’t! I share this history to remind everyone that the idea of a separate Chugiak-Eagle River Borough is not a new concept, but one that has been strongly advocated since statehood.
I served on the Anchorage Assembly from 1986 until 1995 representing Eagle River-Chugiak-Birchwood area. In 1986 the MOA was facing a serious financial crisis. Tony Knowles, a Democrat, was Mayor and the Assembly was a mix of liberals and conservatives. In 1987 Tom Fink, a Republican, was elected Mayor with the Assembly remaining relatively split, if not leaning a bit more conservative. During these years we weathered a tremendous fiscal crisis; reduced services; stayed within the property tax cap; retained a strong bond rating; and equally shared the burdens and benefits across all areas of the MOA. In short, throughout the 1980’s and most of the 1990’s, a balance between the interests of Anchorage and the Chugiak-Eagle River area was maintained.
Regretfully, a chasm between the values of Anchorage and those of Chugiak-Eagle River (Assembly District 2) has grown over the past 15 to 20 years and the belief that both areas still share the same vision of local government no longer exists. Today, the only two conservatives on the Assembly are from District 2. With virtually no allies on the Assembly, they are hand-tied to influence decisions being made in Anchorage that almost solely benefit Anchorage and not the citizens of District 2. Recent actions of Mayor Berkowitz and the Anchorage Assembly confirm to me that the direction Anchorage is heading (more government control over people’s lives with higher taxes and a larger bureaucracy) is not the direction we want for District 2.
I am a passionate resident of Eagle River, having lived in the same home since 1983. I knew many of our Eagle River homesteaders and learned from them the importance of retaining our independence and self-government. We can reduce costs and give more voice to our friends and neighbors by forming a new, smaller, and more responsive government for the residents of District 2. So I ask, if not now, when? The economics support our independence so we should take this opportunity to support EaglExit, take back our government and form our own Borough.
Craig E. Campbell
Former Anchorage Assemblymember (Representing Eagle River, Chugiak, Birchwood, Eklutna)
Alaska’s Tenth Lieutenant Governor
Lieutenant General – Alaska National Guard (Retired)