On Sunday, the Alaska Black Caucus (ABC) stated they had received notification from the Dave Bronson for Mayor campaign indicating that the campaign had a scheduling “conflict” and that Mr. Bronson would not be attending the BIPOC Community Discussion.
“Unfortunately, after originally confirming his participation, our office received notice this week that Mr. Bronson has a conflict. It’s unfortunate because Mr. Bronson wasn’t able to make it to our first forum, or from what I’m told, any BIPOC forum to discuss issues and concerns of our community,” ABC President Celeste Hodge Growden said on Sunday, offering an explanation to forum attendees about Mr. Bronson’s non-attendance.
On Monday evening, the Coordinator of Events/Volunteers/Fundraising for the Bronson campaign made comments on the personal Facebook page of a Dunbar campaign staffer that appeared to question the veracity of ABC’s statement that the Bronson campaign had previously committed to the planned BIPOC community discussion event.
“You might want to investigate that. There was a conflicting preplanned event and the campaign had to decline. This is false information…if the truth is important,” wrote the Bronson Coordinator of Events, who also indicated they were commenting on the Facebook thread for “honesty and as a resident.”
“If there is proof…would love to see it,” the ‘resident’ added.
I reached out to the Alaska Black Caucus via email and asked them to verify that the Bronson for Mayor campaign had in fact confirmed Bronson’s attendance for the BIPOC Community Discussion held on Sunday, April 18, 2021.
In response, Celeste Hodge Growden, President/CEO of the Alaska Black Caucus, wrote:
“I learned of Bronson’s confirmation from the Secretary of the Alaska Black Caucus. Immediately after receiving confirmation, a flyer was designed and posted. We learned of a change when we emailed the format of the forum to both candidates. It was at that time that we learned Bronson wouldn’t be attending because of a conflict.”
According to ABC, a member of the Bronson campaign had a phone conversation with their Secretary about the event.
On April 9, 2021, an email supplied by ABC appears to show that both Dunbar and Bronson had confirmed their participation in the planned event and that both campaigns received the link to register in advance of the event.
If in fact the Bronson campaign received the registration link for the planned BIPOC event, as ABC says they did, one might wonder why the Bronson campaign didn’t reach out to ABC and clarify that Mr. Bronson would not be attending the event?
In a follow up email, ABC President Celeste Hodge Growden wrote:
“Also, since there seems to be so much confusion over him (Bronson) saying they never confirmed his participation because of a conflict, is it possible to confirm a date and time of his choosing to have a forum where we can learn where he stands on issues we care about? We can work within his time constraints. We would of never proceeded with preparation and planning had we known he wasn’t going to participate. We were excited to receive the confirmation and pressed forward. We never had any idea this would turn into a hot button issue over his confirmation/conflict to participate. Let’s just have the forum and focus on the real issues.”
In the Facebook thread where the Monday night drama began, ABC responded directly to the ‘private resident’ associated with the Bronson campaign, writing that they are “willing to host another candidate forum at a day or time that works for Mr. Bronson,” adding that the nonprofit had “sent numerous emails sharing this information but haven’t received any responses.”
It’s not clear why the Bronson campaign hasn’t yet responded to the “numerous” offers the Alaska Black Caucus says they sent to the Bronson campaign seeking to schedule another candidate forum that might better suit Bronson’s schedule.
Yesterday, in what appears to have been a response made by the Dunbar campaign on Facebook — the Bronson campaign released a statement of their own which would bring “clarity to confusion,” but not everyone found the statement to be clarifying.
“Every candidate has to run his/her campaign the way they believe is best,” the statement read before accusing the Dunbar campaign of using a “false forum narrative to fuel negative ads funded with his dark, outside money machine.”
The Bronson for Mayor campaign has enlisted “outside” political consulting firm Axiom Strategies to aid their campaign.
The statement released by the Bronson campaign makes no mention of the Alaska Black Caucus event or what conflict prevented Mr. Bronson from attending the event.
I was unable to find any publicly listed events occurring during the same time period as the BIPOC community forum, which might have created the “conflict” the Bronson campaign claims existed.
This morning, approximately an hour before a discussion event was to begin at Little Dipper Diner, the Bronson campaign announced on Facebook that the event had been rescheduled “due to a Rotary Forum.”
Anchorage residents stand hopeful that the Bronson for Mayor campaign can work with the Alaska Black Caucus to schedule a time convenient for Mr. Bronson so that he might take questions from a part of our community that has not yet heard from him on issues important to them.