What letter grade would you give Mayor Sullivan’s administration, and why?: B-, the administration’s focus on holding the line on property taxes occasionally leads to poor decisions, like cuts to bus service and libraries.
What are your thoughts on the 2008 union contracts approved by the Assembly? Is there a link to those contracts and the city’s current fiscal situation?: Those contracts complied with guidelines dictated in an Assembly Resolution authored by then-chairman Dan Sullivan. In ensuing years the unions have offered a variety of additional concessions to help address budgetary challenges. While the contract are a contributing factor to those challenges, they are only one piece of the overall budget picture.
What are your thoughts on the budget reductions proposed by Mayor Sullivan over the past two years? Are they too much? Not deep enough? A right amount?: In some cases, like bus service and libraries, I feel the administration’s cuts have gone too far. In others, like consolidation of procurement services, I feel there remain opportunities to increase efficiencies and save taxpayer dollars.
What city services would you like to see reinstated, and how would you suggest they are paid for?: I would like to see reinstatement of some bus and library funding. Funding options include seeking state support for public transit (Alaska is one of two or three states without such funding), cost savings in other areas (like lease costs), grant funding and, as a last resort, a very small tax increment.
Are property taxes too high? What consideration should be given to alternative taxes like the tobacco tax, or a sales tax?: Relative to other communities Anchorage's overall tax burden is very low but our property taxes are higher than average. Relying so heavily on property tax (roughly 50% of municipal revenues) is unhealthy and concerns property owners so diversifying our revenue stream while remaining within the confines of the tax cap is a worthwhile goal. As a community we need to discuss what steps we wish to take to achieve that goal, and a sales tax would certainly be a significant part of that discussion.What is the most important issue affecting the city as a whole?:
Energy supplies, and potential natural gas shortages in particular, threaten the health and economic well-being of our community. This must be addressed.
What is the most important issue facing your district more than other districts?: The neighborhoods in district 1 (Downtown, Fairview, Government Hill, Mountain View and South Addition) are Anchorage's oldest and are transitioning or redeveloping in many areas. Helping to advance those neighborhood transformations is a key focus for the area.Incumbents -- What three pieces of legislation you authored during your current assembly term are you are most proud of? Why?:
The three pieces of legislation I am most proud of are:
The final version of the Equal Rights ordinance, which addressed concerns raised by business and religious groups while extending equal rights to all Anchorage residents.
An ordinance establishing a conditional use process for housing first facilities, which gives neighborhoods a voice where before they had none.
The first resolution providing advance budgetary guidance to the School Board prior to their budget deliberations, thereby ensuring they had precise information on the level of property tax contribution they could expect the Assembly to support.
Should the municipality require mandatory photo identification for all customers purchasing alcohol at package liquor stores? Why or why not?: While universal ID check wouldn’t hurt, it needs to be coupled with other "best practices" if we truly expect to reduce the flow of alcohol to those unable to consume responsibly.
Should an agency other than the Anchorage Police Department be allowed to issue parking tickets to vehicles parked downtown? Why or why not?: Yes, doing so would create better turnover for motorists seeking a space and free up downtown police patrols to address other issues. That said, an agency granted this authority must employ it responsibly. If they do not the Assembly should revoke that authority.
Should the city extend the disabled veteran property tax exemption to widows and widowers? Why or why not?: Because this is a very small population I think it is appropriate to take this incremental step.
The last municipal election had the lowest voter turnout in at least 20 years. Why should people head to the polls and vote on April 5th?: Anchorage is your city and municipal elections are your chance to have a say on who will represent you, which bond propositions should be approved and what ballot initiatives should be enacted. As recent world event have reiterated, this is a special right we should exercise at every opportunity.