How many years have you lived in Sitka and in Alaska? 25 years
Describe your family:
Married with 5 children
Previous government or other relevant experience: None.
Why are you running for the Sitka Assembly this year? The current assembly and city government appears to view tax and fee increases as the only way to solve the city’s fiscal problems — and is continuing this pattern unceasingly. That is driving citizens out of town, which will decrease revenue. We need to be looking at the big picture. I want to fight to save this town from the negative downtrend we are experiencing. Sitka is worth fighting for!
What are your top two priorities if elected? Stop the increases immediately. Show citizens we are looking at the big picture and try to reduce the cost of living. Hopefully this will cause those who were thinking of leaving to not do so. Basically, stop the outward flow of people and families. The other is to try to move the conversation away from increases to other ways to spur economic growth, such as tax and fee incentives for new businesses. Spending needs to be curbed in some areas, but sustained or increased in others, such as investing in ways to attract visitors to Sitka.
What’s your philosophy for funding city government, which includes enterprise funds (electricity, etc.) and the Sitka School District. Is Sitka living within its means? If not, what should be done to change that?
I believe the city is not living within its means. Capital projects are being embarked upon regardless of the means for the public to bear those costs. Also, when you continuously raise taxes and fees, it becomes a disincentive to consumption and even residency. I believe a hard look needs to be made at the city finances to bring spending under control. We need to be looking for ways to increase consumption of city services such as electricity, and always be looking for ways to make Sitka a business-friendly town and increase revenue.
The city will soon enter negotiations to sell Sitka Community Hospital to SEARHC. Do you support the merger of Sitka’s two hospitals? Why or why not? And if elected, what would you do to drive or reverse that process?
I support the buyout of Sitka Community Hospital by SEARHC, only if the issues that have been brought up by the citizenry have been dealt with properly. The offer on the table is way too small and needs serious improvement. After a deal is crafted, I would like to see that brought to the people of Sitka for an advisory vote. (I am under the understanding that a ratifying vote is no longer an option. If it was, I would prefer that). The people of Sitka need to be properly heard on this!
There are two question on the ballot, one calling for the sales tax exemption for senior citizens to be reinstated, and the other exempting Sitka from the statewide public smoking ban. Where do you stand on these issues?
I support the sales tax exemption for seniors. This exemption was put into effect to keep seniors here. Also, the seniors are most likely the biggest demographic prone to shop locally. Without it, we may loose the sales altogether through online shopping, etc. As far as the statewide public smoking ban, I support giving people the RIGHT to choose this matter for themselves on the Oct 2nd election. So many people today forget how important it is for us to maintain and exercise our individual rights.
Sitka has a severe lack of affordable homes, as well as a homeless population without shelter. What role – if any – does the Assembly have in supporting affordable housing and shelter?
The presence of a homeless population is very troubling, and I empathize with this. However, in a time when we are grappling with so many financial issues as a city, I do not see how we can afford to provide a homeless shelter. I know this sounds cold, and I do not intend to be so. Its just that we cannot afford it.
Sitka has deferred maintenance on multiple pieces of infrastructure. To replace harbors, for instance, moorage rates have been raised. The city is seeking state bonds. What do you think of the city’s approach to capital repairs?
Adding debt to pay for these and then passing it on to the people is just not sustainable. The most recent decision to take on debt to pay for Crescent Harbor will mean a 6.5% moorage increase yearly until the year 2035. This is simply not affordable. People will pull their boats out who can. Those who can’t may simply move their fishing boats to another town with better rates.
Describe your decision-making style. If elected, what kind of Assembly member do you want to be? What do you want the public to know about who you are as a leader?