How many years have you lived in Sitka and in Alaska? I was born in Sitka and raised here until my family moved to Sequim, WA when I was 13 years old. I returned to Sitka in January 2016 to stay.
Family: My close family consists of my parents, former long-time Sitkans Rhonda Dapcevich and Dick Dapcevich. I am also close to my brother, who is currently working as a geophysical engineer in Seattle, WA. Together, my family and I own and operate Dapcevich Accounting Service, a local accounting firm that has been helping businesses and individuals since 1960.
I am the granddaughter of John Dapcevich, who served 6 terms as Mayor of Sitka. My Uncle, Marko Dapcevich, is also a former Sitka Mayor and Assembly member.
Occupation: Tax Professional
Updated 9-14-20: 3:30 PM
Community involvement, past and present:
I have been volunteering at the Alaska Raptor Center since 2016. I have also volunteered with the Sitka Conservation Society’s project, Sitka Mutual Aid Network, by assisting residents who need support during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Have you previously run for public office? When and what office?
I have not previously run for public office.
Why are you running for a seat on the Sitka Assembly this year?
I am running for assembly to encourage growth with financial stability.
Especially over the last year, I have had very tough conversations with people all over the community about how their lives have changed. What strikes me is that they are all looking for the same thing-for someone to listen to them and to really care about helping them. My skill set and compassion are exactly what this moment calls for. I am running for assembly to find real, applicable solutions to the challenges that Sitka faces as a community. I will work hard to emphasize collaborative, informed decisions to ensure current and future residents can thrive here together.
What are your top two priorities if elected?
Developing affordable, safe housing for residents
Enhancing resources for the business community and creating economic opportunity
What is your philosophy for funding city government (including enterprise funds, electricity, water, etc)?
You can’t spend money you don’t have. I think the City needs to slow down on spending and the accumulation of debt. While It is important that the city can provide efficient and affordable services that meet the needs of residents and businesses, the lives of Sitkans are already impacted by a high cost of living and seasonal markets. People should not have to be using their savings accounts to pay for the city’s over-spending mistakes. Especially during this time of economic instability, existing infrastructure use can be maximized while holding off on long-term development projects to address the urgent needs within the community. The better that people can afford to live in Sitka, the more money they keep in their pockets and can spend in the community.
Should we fund the Sitka School District to the maximum allowable by state law?
We need to support our schools! The schools are our future: a high level of education
leads to a skilled workforce and a strong economy. The quality of a school also helps to bring
more residents to Sitka, contributing to the non-seasonal workforce and to our economy. SSD
funding is an investing in our future.
The assembly has seen unprecedented challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic- both in keeping Sitka safe and distributing federal financial relief throughout the community. Do you believe the assembly’s responses to the coronavirus pandemic have been satisfactory? Why or why not?
I believe the assembly’s responses to the coronavirus pandemic have been satisfactory in terms of public safety. The proactive decisions to promote shelter-in-place and shutting down
nonessential businesses is perhaps the reason we have not seen large-scale community spread of the virus at this point in time. That being said, I have seen first-hand the financial and personal ruin that citizens have had to bare because of these early decisions. Such hardships may have been minimized had the assembly not responded so firmly early on. It is so difficult to plan ahead during a unique and uncertain circumstance like this, and I believe the assembly acted with appropriate caution given the information that was available at the time.
Assuming the situation doesn’t change by 2021, what should the assembly’s proactive response be to keep the community safe and safeguard the economy?
Everyone has an individual responsibility to follow guidance from department of public health
and the CDC to prevent the spread of the virus in Sitka, and I applaud the citizens of Sitka for
taking appropriate precautions on their own.
The assembly should still be prepared to issue local ordinances in order to mitigate widespread infection, particularly as schools and businesses open to different degrees. Many people in Sitka are in positions where social distancing is impossible, such as multi generational households. Additionally, the mean age of Sitkans is in the age group considered “high-risk”, and hospital beds and resources are limited. The assembly will need to consider how these factors may contribute to an increased risk of public health and tailor our response to the community needs.
The bottom line is that we must be open to changing the way we respond to this virus as we
learn more about the virus and how we see it spreading in the community. Public health and
health system resources should be the foremost concern as it affects not only the health of our citizens but also the strength of our economy, which has already taken a hit. Our community and economic security will undoubtedly be affected should the virus spread to a large degree, and recovery will only be delayed if measures are not put in place if and as they become appropriate. This situation will continue to change, both in Sitka and across the globe, and so it is important that the assembly’s response changes in accordance.
What role should the assembly play in addressing social justice and racial equity in Sitka, if any?
One of the many appeals of Sitka is its cultural diversity. In such a diverse community, the assembly’s role is to ensure that everyone is provided public safety services in a fair, equitable way. This may involve development of new facilities of care, encouraging and coordinating collaboration between institutions, and insisting on accountability within such systems and facilities.
Advocacy and Opposition
How do you respond when you sense growing public opposition to an ordinance you support? What if you sponsored the ordinance, and feel it’s in the best interest of the public that it pass?
Listen, analyze, make changes if/when other important perspectives are not considered initially, as appropriate. If I still feel it is in the best interest of the public, I would continue to seek a resolution of some kind on subsequent readings.