All You Need to Know About Palin's Wasilla, Alaska

Sarah Palin was my mayor.

My family moved to Wasilla when I was eleven years old. The road I lived on was still gravel, and the town then  was still on its first of three successive Wal-Marts. It was 1996, and that year Sarah Palin was first elected mayor.

Today, under Sarah Palin's leadership, Wasilla has become the picture of exurban sprawl: an explosion in the housing stock, tons of new highway expansion, tons of new big box stores and fast food franchises, and absolutely 0 sustainability. Combined with a lack of zoning, and a predilection for building open-pit gravel mines all over the place, and Wasilla could be the poster-town for bad municipal leadership.

Wasilla, like a lot of Alaska, is defined by its remoteness. It is a 45 mile drive from Anchorage, yet functions primarily as a bedroom community. The city limits are confined mostly to a narrow strip along the Parks Highway (a major route from Anchorage to Fairbanks), but Wasillans can live dozens of miles away from the town center. An official population of roughly 6,000 balloons to dozens of thousands in the greater Wasilla area. Despite their small size, Wasilla and Palmer form the major social and political axis of the Mat-Su borough, a county equivalent the size of West Virginia.

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