Democrat Mark Begich to face Republican George Wuerch in runoff

Posted: Thursday, April 06, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Democrat Mark Begich captured 40 percent of the vote in Tuesday's mayoral race, twice as many as runner-up Republican George Wuerch who will face Begich in a runoff election.

With 100 percent of the vote counted, Wuerch finished with 21 percent, followed closely by Jack Frost with 18 percent. About 1,300 votes separated the two candidates. The runoff is required because no one got more than 50 percent of the vote.

Begich, 38, a real estate investor and small business owner, said he was going to work hard to prepare for the runoff.

''We're going to put on a full-court press for the next four weeks,'' Begich said Wednesday.

Begich is trying for the second time to become mayor. He lost in a runoff in 1994 to Rick Mystrom after getting 20 percent of the vote, just 1 percent less than Mystrom. Mystrom is not running for re-election.

At one point, only about 100 votes separated Wuerch and Frost but Wuerch pulled away slightly.

''I'm ... happy to see I prevailed in the end,'' the second-term assemblyman said.

Frost, a radio advertising executive who has never held political office, congratulated Wuerch on his win.

''I thought it was a good campaign. I will support George,'' Frost said.

Begich served as an Anchorage assemblyman from 1988 to 1999 and was voted chairman three times. As mayor, he said he would strengthen the city's economy, increase air cargo business at Anchorage International Airport and do more about snow removal and potholes.

Wuerch, 64, said he would reduce the size and cost of municipal government. If a property tax cap initiative succeeds in the fall, Wuerch wants to offset a possible loss in the city's budget by selling utilities and opening city services to competition.

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