JJ Carlson

Age: 37

How many years have you lived in Sitka and in Alaska? Born and raised in Sitka, I left for 17 years and returned 2 years ago. I have lived in Sitka for 20 years.

Occupation: Trained as an architect, I made a career in the business side of architecture and construction before I moved back to Sitka. I returned to caregive for my parents. Caregiving connected me with a local social services nonprofit that I continue part time work with. Additionally, I am a non-profit administration and facilities construction project management for a local affordable housing trust.

Family: My mom moved to Sitka in 1970 for a job at the Sitka Community Hospital. My parents met in Sitka 40 years ago and just last year moved south into an assisted living facility where they could receive better care for their neuro degenerative conditions. My family has given me solid values, work ethic, a service-oriented outlook and a love for this place that is home.

Community involvement, past and present:
No Response Provided

Previous government or other relevant experience: 

My combined life experiences make me who I am. This perspective is what I wish to share and I consider that related experience for being an Assembly member. I have witnessed the pubic process for years in different settings and see running for assembly as a way to serve this town that I love. Additionally, I was on SHS student council twenty years ago.

Have you previously run for public office? When and what office?

This is my first time running for public office. I was appointed to the seat I currently hold on the Sitka Assembly in December 2023.

Why are you running for a seat on the Sitka Assembly this year? 

I aim to keep Sitka affordable and a great place to live and work for my generation and generations to come.

What are your top priorities if elected? 
Actuate the strategic plan. Keep city functions and utilities going while balancing quality of life for Sitkans. Specifically, I’m looking to address tourism, affordable housing, and childcare.


Ballot Prop 2

Do you support Ballot Prop 2, which would establish a permanent 1 percent seasonal sales tax and direct the funds toward school infrastructure repairs and replacement. Why or why not? 

I do. It’s a responsible, reliable, and transparent way to fund school building repairs. Sitka schools are aging. Even with constant attention, buildings need major updates every 20-30 years. Several schools were built in the 1950-60s with seemingly continuous additions and renovations to keep up with the growing student population. Sitka schools got a major boost in the 1990-2000s with the construction of Keet and full renovation of the high school. Financial support from the State of Alaska was available in the past and it is a very different picture today. We are arguably already in that next wave of major necessary updates. Taxes are a hardship. I understand the struggle. I also understand the need to be proactive and financially responsible about planning for the future of Sitka.

If Ballot Prop 2 fails, is there another route the assembly should take to shore up infrastructure money for the school district? 

There is always another option; that’s a hallmark of creative problem solving. Another route may not be as consistent and proven a revenue stream as 1% sales tax between April – September.


Ballot Prop 1 

Do you support Ballot Prop 1, which would allow municipal employees to serve on the Sitka School Board, provided they are not school district employees. Why or why not?

 I do. My reading of the area of the code interprets this previous limitation as guarding against conflicts of interest. I see no conflict with the vast majority of municipal employees serving on the school board due to zero involvement in school funding decisions. However unlikely, I would have a problem with the city administrator or finance director serving on the school board. This is such an obvious professional transgression I have confidence this would never happen.



What role should the assembly play in limiting cruise tourism in Sitka? 

The assembly needs to, “implement policies that will balance the economic benefits of tourism with the impacts on Sitkan’s quality of life” (3.4 from the CBS strategic plan). Like all assembly items, addressing cruise tourism numbers in Sitka should be backed by Sitkans and in alignment with state and federal laws. I want to foster an Assembly that responds to the community and make decisions that have the best interests of Sitka in mind for today and 30 years from now.

More tourism means more sales tax revenue. Where should the assembly direct these additional funds?

The core of sales tax proceeds goes to funding our schools, infrastructure, and safety from the general fund. Most other major functions come from separate enterprise funds. Schools, infrastructure, and safety are all areas with growing needs and are well deserving of increased sales tax revenue.



Sitka has been using Department of Energy grant funds to research energy alternatives, including wind and tidal power. Do you feel any of these alternatives should be developed?

I am cautiously optimistic about utilizing alternative energy sources for Sitka. There is additional research and analysis needed before alternative energy sources get developed here. Federal grant funded research is a great option for exploring feasibility. Large scale construction projects are expensive to begin with, adding in the remoteness of our resources, development may very well be cost prohibitive. It’s too soon to tell.



Sitka voters last year approved spending over $8 million on a new marine haulout at the Gary Paxton Industrial Park. Nevertheless, the funding is still far short of what’s needed to build a haul out and boatyard. How should Sitka make up the balance?

 The phased construction approach was devised to meet core operation needs first and then built out robust fleet service. Phase 1 is funded and will hopefully begin construction in 2024. Schedule uncertainty is due to permitting. Once built, a pay as you go; fee for service financial model comes to mind to partially fund expansion goals. Still yet the bulk of financing phase 2 will need to come from additional revenue streams. Grants are a good option and perhaps we need to explore additional federal funding.