Why I picked Dick Traini over Andy Clary, & you should too (Anchorage Assembly Midtown Seat F)

Andy & BethAnne Clary

Andy & BethAnne Clary, from campaign literature mailed to my home.

I’ve already voted — Tuesday before last, in fact, when I headed over to the Loussac Library to attend that evening’s Anchorage Assembly meeting & discovered absentee balloting already in progress.  I voted  for Dick Traini for seat F in the Anchorage Assembly.

A number of other progressive Anchorage bloggers have already weighed in on why other Midtown voters ought to vote for Dick Traini & against Andy Clary in the April 6 municipal elections.  Now it’s my turn.

Yesterday my friend John Aronno of Alaska Commons wrote, “I like Andy. He’s a nice guy. He also comes off as a highly intelligent person” [Ref #1].  I have no reason to doubt John, whose judgment has proven itself time & again since I first met him last year in the trenches of the summer-long battle of the Anchorage equal rights ordinance AO 2009-64 — a battle which is, of course, highly relevant to this election, not only because Andy Clary was on the “no” side of it [Ref #2].

Dick Traini

Dick Traini. Courtesy Alaska Commons.

Later in his post, John reiterated Clary’s likability:

Andy Clary is a likable guy, and someone with crossover values, given his opponent, Dick Traini, who is about as likable as spring’s “break up,” or Michael Steele, or Paul Kendall. It honestly reminds me a bit of the Scott Brown election: elect the opposite of your values because you’re more pissed off at the person that claims to represent you. Traini hasn’t worked hard for this, and even I am in the camp where, either way, I won’t be happy. No one ends up represented well. Kudos, Midtown. [Ref #1]

Uh… well, thanks John.  That’s kinda how I feel about it too.  As a Midtown voter, I can at least take consolation that I’ll no longer be “represented” by this guy –

Assemblymember Dan Coffey

– but it’d be even better if I had a chance of being “represented” by someone who really did represent me. But that’s the nature of representative democracy — some people are “represented,” & the rest of us are screwed. Of course, the “other side” — whatever that side might be — has to deal with that same stinky win/lose fact.

But let me cut to the chase. Here’s some reasons to vote for Dick Traini rather than Andy Clary.

Reason #1: Dan Sullivan

This comes out of one of Andy Clary’s mailers that arrived in my mailbox:

Not really a good recommendation

In my book: not a great recommendation. In fact, it’s enough reason all by itself to pick Traini over Clary — especially coupled with the other side of the “support” equation: Clary’s support of Sullivan. Check out this video (courtesy Alaska Commons) of the candidate forum where Clary was asked to name one positive & one negative thing that former Mayor (now U.S. Senator) Mark Begich did as mayor, and one positive & one negative thing that Mayor Sullivan has done.

Clary couldn’t think of even one negative thing Sullivan had done. Well, I suppose it’s possible that Clary sees Sullivan as perfect — but that’s pretty troubling, if so.  In his campaign literature, Clary claims to have “an independent conservative viewpoint”: is his viewpoint independent enough to disagree with or oppose Sullivan on anything, or will he be just a junior version of Sullivan’s departing pal Dan Coffey?  The Anchorage Daily News reports,

On an Assembly that’s been fractious over Sullivan’s leadership, Clary makes it clear he is allied with Sullivan, who became mayor last July. He served on Sullivan’s transition team, held a fundraiser at McGinley’s, the pub Sullivan co-owns, and says of Sullivan, “Generally, I like what I’ve seen.” [Ref #3]

What about Traini?  The story goes on:

Traini said he donated $100 to Sullivan’s campaign for mayor, but the mayor didn’t reciprocate. “I have a good relationship, I think, maybe not the best.”

“I work with both sides,” said Traini. [Ref #3]

Reason #2: Opposition to equality under the law for LGBTQ citizens

Here’s a photo I took in the Assembly chambers on August 11, 2009, right after the Assembly by a vote of 7 to 4 passed the Anchorage equal rights ordinance, AO-64, which prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, & education. [Ref #4] That is, until the ordinance was vetoed 6 days later by Mayor Dan Sullivan. [Ref #5]

Jerry Prevo and other ordinance opponents, after the ordinance was  passed

At the center in the grey jacket with red shirt is the Anchorage Baptist Temple’s Rev. Jerry Prevo, and beside him is ABT associate pastor, Rev. Glenn Clary — Andy Clary’s father. Prevo and ABT were, of course, prominent opponents of AO-64, going so far in their opposition as to bus Mat-Su Borough residents in to testify against it (a move permitted by then-Assembly Chair Debbie Ossiander, who is standing for re-election on April 6).

Despite his father’s affiliation with ABT, Andy Clary is not a member of Prevo’s church.  He’s a member of ChangePoint [Ref #3] — a fact which at least some of Clary’s supporters seem to believe means he is absolutely independent of ABT influence.  For instance, check out this comment on Dan Fagan’s Alaska Standard piece criticizing ADN reporter Rosemary Shinohara’s story about the Midtown race.  The commenter, Bryan, was responding to a previous comment by Anchorage pollster Ivan Moore:

There’s no connection!

What a bunch of BULL! Prevo is not Andy’s pastor. ABT is not Andy’s church.


Andy Doesn’t go to ABT… Prevo isn’t Andy’s pastor…

This faux connection is complete BULL and you should be ashamed. [Ref #6, reader comment]

A similar comment was made anonymously to a story about Andy Clary’s candidacy at the LGBTQ blog Bent Alaska. [Ref #7] But please — of course there’s a connection between Andy Clary and ABT, because of his father; and it’s not as if evangelical megachurch ChangePoint is at odds with the politics espoused by the pastor or members of evangelical megachurch ABT.  Aside from that, Andy Clary, as a staff writer for Dan Fagan’s conservative blog the Alaska Standard, made it clear that he opposed the ordinance, albeit in less strident tones than many of red-shirted “Christians” who testified last summer:

As I sat in the assembly chambers Tuesday night and listened to hours of testimony from both sides of the issue, I was concerned how much religion kept coming up in the discussion. Time and time again, those who stood up to oppose the ordinance would quote the Bible or call homosexuality sin. The whole setting became an us vs. them mentality and even I, reporting live from the event, kept a tally of how many testified on each side of the issue. I cringed at the tone of some of the testimony.

Now, before I go any further, let me say that I am opposed to the ordinance myself, but for very different reasons. You see, I am a committed follower of Christ, and although I believe homosexuality is not a lifestyle that Christ approves of, I see it no differently than other sins such as alcoholism or adultery. Why do we Christians lash out against one sin so differently than we do any other? We need to be reaching these people not tearing them down. [Ref #2]

Never mind that persisting in calling homosexuality a “lifestyle” or a “sin” akin to alcoholism or adultery is not a very good way of reaching “these people” — speaking as one of “these people” myself.  In his campaign literature, Andy Clary claims that “I know how to listen”; but like most of the redshirts who populated the Assembly Chambers last summer, his mind is already made up about LGBTQ people: he’s not listening to us at all.

And don’t forget: Clary couldn’t think of one thing wrong that Mayor Sullivan did.  This sign — carried by a demonstrator on August 17, 2009, after Sullivan’s veto of AO-64 –

Protesting Mayor Sullivan's veto of AO 64

– could just as well say “Assembly candidate Andy Clary supports discrimination.”

Well, what about Dick Traini?  Discussion of this race in the LGBTQ community has focused almost as much on Traini’s Mormonism as on Cary’s relationship to the church his father is a pastor of.  LGBTQ Alaskans remember all too well how the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) financed the 1998 campaign against marriage equality in Alaska, as well as the Prop 8 battle in California.

But the LDS Church is taking a different stance on employment and  housing protections — and so, apparently, is Dick Traini.  Yesterday, E. Ross at Bent Alaska wrote,

Dick Traini is a conservative with an independent streak. He has also said that he could support a non-discrimination ordinance similar to the one passed in Salt Lake City with the approval of the Mormon Church. That ordinance added sexual orientation but not gender identity, and involved only housing and job protections. [Ref #7]

But just now I learned that in fact two ordinances were passed in Salt Lake Lake City last year — both of them endorsed by the LDS Church — and the second one extends the same protections on the basis of gender identity, that the first extended on the basis of sexual orientation. [Ref #8] In fact, both ordinances took effect just yesterday. [Ref #9] Congratulations, Salt Lake City!

Might that meant that Traini could possibly support a nondiscrimination ordinance that includes both sexual orientation and gender identity?  Maybe someone should ask.  In any case, better him than Clary, who like Mayor Sullivan supports discrimination.

Reason #3: Experience, or the lack thereof

As a Midtown voter whose also got another voter living at my address, I’ve gotten peppered with Andy Clary campaign mailer with their photoshopped attacks on Traini.  Ryan Knight at the Back Porch comments:

Throwing mud at your opponent, mocking them in pedestrian cartoons, and attempting to aggrandize yourself at their expense indicates immaturity and poor character integrity. You don’t win by bullying, and the actions Andy has engaged in towards Traini are not Christian. God is not going to give him a high-five for mockery, manipulation, and Machiavellian plots. If he thinks so, he needs to read the bible again, and spend some serious time getting up close and personal to God. [Ref #10]

The Mudflats described one of the mailers thusly:

His latest mailer puts Mr. Traini’s photoshopped head on the bodies of King George, Napoleon on a horse, the bust of Julius Caesar and some sort of leotard-clad union superhero.

Underneath these bizarre iconic images are the words…and I quote (including quotation marks and all caps):


Yep, I got that one too.  Here’s what it looks like:

Andy Clary's red herring

Here’s one I got earlier:

Andy Clary's red herring

What strikes me about these cartoonish attacks is this:

They are red herrings intended to distract voters from Clary’s own lack of public service experience by deriding Dick Traini for his record of public service. Clary’s made a theme of referring to “career politicians” — clearly intimating that Traini is one. But is he? As Traini told KTUU Channel 2 News:

“That’s interesting,” Traini said. “Let’s see: I spent 20 years in the military, I worked civil service for 18 years, and I’ve taught college for 13 years — that’s my career.” [Ref #12]

Traini’s record of public service includes 10-1/2 prior years on the Assembly, in the 1990s and from 2001-2008.  Per the Anchorage Daily News:

On the Assembly, Traini was chairman for six years.

He was the driving force behind creation of Anchorage’s popular off-leash dog parks. He sponsored tougher laws for uninsured and unlicensed drivers.

He backed more serious penalties for DUI offenders, a tobacco tax to discourage young people from smoking, and an anti-stalking law.

Traini also tried to get rid of emissions testing for vehicles, arguing that Anchorage no longer needs such testing because our air meets federal quality standards.

But the Assembly ended up reinstating the testing. [Ref #3]

(Clary also apposes I/M testing.)

Compare the record of public service of Andy Clary, who owns an IT consulting service:

When asked at a candidate luncheon how he has served the community, he cited church work. He taught Sunday school, led men’s studies and cooked food for different events, for example. [Ref #3]

Right.  Nothing outside the church.  Nothing involving members of the community outside his own evangelical megachurch community of belief.

His ideas for what to do on the Assembly are just as limited in their scope, made up chiefly of standard conservative talking points (low taxes, free enterprise, etc.) and tech as the answer to just about everything.  Sometimes those ideas make sense –

One idea to save money is to rent to the state space that’s not needed for the city’s data center, said Clary. He’s also heard a city human resources and financial software system is performing poorly, and is costing the city time and money. He’d like to get that fixed. [Ref #3]

– and sometimes he’s clearly out of his depth. John Aronno reports:

Next, he wants to “allow police and fire to be more effective through improved technology in the field.”

Great. But if you approve of Sullivan’s approach to reducing emergency services, I don’t understand how fancying up the computers in a vacant office helps anyone in an emergency. [Ref #1]

Exactly.  Not to mention — just what does Clary even know about police and fire technology?  According to the ADN, he owns Think IT Alaska and develops Internet software for GeoNorth. [Ref #3] But I don’t see anything at either company’s website to indicate he has any knowledge much less expertise in the technologies routinely used by law enforcement officers or firefighters in the field. Does he even know what NLECT stands for, or what it does?  What’s his experience or knowledge of crime mapping, its benefits, its limitations?  Just as a couple of for instances.  These are specialized areas; a degree in Management Information Systems and ownership of an IT consulting company do not make him even remotely qualified as the go-to guy for looking to the technology needs of Anchorage Police Department or Anchorage Fire Department.  He’s talking out of some other part of his anatomy there than his mouth, sorry.

Clary’s inexperience and narrowness of knowledge really shows here, too — from the KTUU story on the Midtown race:

Traini says if he’s voted in to the Assembly, the U-Med district containing the University of Alaska Anchorage campus and several city hospitals will get extra attention.

“The University-hospital area there is a big economic engine for Midtown,” Traini said. “We’ve got to figure out how to get transit coming in there, the housing around it, and the demands of the people who go to college there.”

Clary says he’s got a hands-off approach to government involvement in private lives.

“I think some of the business owners are concerned that the city doesn’t need to be proscribing so much how land use is developed in that area,” Clary said. “I’m of the opinion that the private sector needs to lead that effort.” [Ref #12]

Has Clary never heard of government working with the private sector, for the benefit of both?  Hello?  Particularly when we’re talking about — hello? — an economic engine for the area that Clary is aspiring to represent.  Hello?

Andy Clary’s “fresh perspective”: Not really that new, not really that different, and — sorry — not really that bright

Just typical conservative talking points with a little IT added in.

Andy Clary's "fresh perspective"

It’s even clearer to me than it was before I started this post how much better a choice Dick Traini is than Andy Clary, whose chief qualification for running seems to be an ideological narrowness that matches that of Dan Sullivan, Dan Fagan, and the evangelical megachurch community.

Traini, for his part, is recognized for his ability to work with conservatives as well as progressives:

“I think I can get both sides to work together,” Traini said. “I have worked before with a liberal Assembly, I’ve worked with a conservative Assembly. I’ve worked with four or five mayors, depends on how you want to count. And we can all work together, because everybody down there wants what’s best for Anchorage.” [Ref #12]

Per the ADN,

former Assemblyman Traini, competing with Clary for the Midtown seat, regularly served as a swing vote between one camp and another on his prior years’ service. [Ref #13]

And we need that more than someone who seems poorly equipped to do anything other than be Mayor Sullivan’s yes-man.

I’m really glad I voted as I did. I hope other Midtown residents will vote for Traini too.

And do vote!  It’s important! Especially if you think Sullivan’s mayoralty sucks as much as I do: because this election, if it goes wrong, could serve to make his administration even suckier.


  1. 4/1/10. “Andy Clary” by John Aronno (Alaska Commons).
  2. 6/10/09. “Can you legislate morality?” by Andy Clary (Alaska Standard).
  3. 3/31/10. “Political rookie faces veteran in Midtown Assembly race — Experienced Traini faces challenge from newcomer Clary for seat being vacated by Coffey” by Rosemary Shinohara (Anchorage Daily News).
  4. 8/13/09. “Third time in 35 years: Anchorage’s equal rights ordinance” by Melissa S. Green (Henkimaa).
  5. 8/17/09. “Protesting the veto: Photos” by Melissa S. Green (Henkimaa).
  6. 3/31/10. “Daily News Reporter disgraces her profession” by Dan Fagan (Alaska Standard).
  7. 4/1/10. “Bent Alaska: ABT pastor’s son runs for Anchorage assembly” by E. Ross (Bent Alaska).
  8. 11/12/09. “LDS apostle: SLC gay-rights measures could work for state” by Rosemary Winters And Peggy Fletcher Stack (The Salt Lake Tribune).
  9. 4/2/10. “New laws protect gay and lesbian rights in Salt Lake City” by Lisa Von App (Examiner.com: Salt Lake City Page One Examiner).
  10. 4/2/10. “Midtown Anchorage Assembly Race Heats Up” by Jeanne Devon (The Mudflats).
  11. 4/2/10. “The Gospel of Mudslinging” by Ryan Knight (The Back Porch).
  12. 3/31/10. “Assembly election: Traini, Clary, Whittaker vie for Midtown seat” by Jason Lamb (KTUU Channel 2 News).
  13. 4/2/10. “Assembly races could shift mayor’s clout — TUESDAY ELECTION: With 5 seats up for grabs, Sullivan could suffer or benefit depending on who wins” by Rosemary Shinohara (Anchorage Daily News).
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