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Dave Kiffer
Candidate for Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly
3 year term ( 2 seats open)

Responses to Readers' Questions


Published: Sunday
September 14, 2003

DAve Kiffer

Dave Kiffer

 "Respect for the Past,
Ideas for the Future"

447 Hillcrest
Ketchikan, Alaska 99901


  • Fourth Generation Ketchikan Resident
  • Married to Charlotte Glover; one son, Liam Benjamin Kiffer, 2 1/2 going on 20
  • Executive Director, Historic Ketchikan Inc.
  • Adjunct Professor, UAS - Ketchikan
  • Freelance writer, musician and music teacher
  • Past and present civic positions include:
    • Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council 1983-84, 1999-2003
    • Ketchikan Community Youth Council 1975-1977
    • Ketchikan Community Concert Band Board 2001-2003
    • Ketchikan Big Brothers Big Sisters Board 1992-1994
    • Ketchikan Special Olympics 1994-1995
    • Ketchikan Museum Advisory Board 1995-1999, 2003
    • Ketchikan Gateway Borough Facilities Naming Committee 2003
  • Bachelor of Arts: Journalism, Northeastern University
  • Master of Arts: Creative Writing, Lancaster University


Government must be a positive force in the community. It has two roles: to enhance economic vitality and to ensure the quality of life.

The biggest issue for the borough is fiscal responsibility. The borough workforce expanded more than 30 percent between 1997 and 2002, at a time when the local economy was contracting. This summer we have seen the borough float several proposals to raise more money because of its budget deficit. None of those proposals addressed the issue of why the budget was out of balance, they just asked for more money. The borough needs to get its financial house in order.

Taxes or staff cuts?

I oppose the proposed sales tax increases because I am not in favor of using sales taxes to prop up borough government or to finance a new office building. I do support a temporary .5 sales tax increase for a new swimming pool, but not as part of a proposed 1.5 percent sales tax increase.

While some staff cuts will need to be made, we have to be careful not to slash government jobs indiscriminately. Year-round, well paying government jobs are crucial to our economy. I have heard it suggested that government (local, state, federal) needs to be reduced by 30 percent in the Ketchikan area. That would result in a much greater hit to our economy than the closure of the pulp mill. We can not afford that. But we - as borough residents - need to be certain that we are getting what we pay for and that the level of property and sale taxation is appropriate to the level of borough services that we want to receive.

Consolidation - We wouldn't even be voting on consolidation (again!) if the borough and city governments were cooperating to benefit the community as a whole. We have great needs that will only be met if everyone works together and in recent years we have not seen that effort. If voters approve a charter commission then care must be taken to make sure that the process and result is fair to both city and rural residents. The charter commission must come up with a new government structure because neither existing government should be allowed to absorb the other entity. I do not support consolidation by degree, i.e. the city expanding its borders or the borough assuming additional area-wide powers.

Annexation - I do not support the borough's plans to annex Meyers Chuck and Hyder. It is ironic that the same people on the Assembly who opposed a "hostile" city takeover of Shoreline favor a similar "hostile" borough takeover of Hyder and Meyers Chuck. It will cost the borough well more than the estimated $70,000 to provide services to those communities and the estimate of $1 million in additional timber receipts seems unlikely given the fact that less timber production is taking place in the region.

Education funding - The borough's most important role is to ensure that our schools have adequate funding. This is the community's future and funding must be at the cap every year. Funding other areas such as maintenance and student activities can be discussed, but only once the borough has fully funded the cap and then determined what else it can afford to provide.

Economic Development - The city and the borough need to cooperate on a single plan to improve our port and harbor facilities. Additional downtown port facilities are needed, but Wards Cove must also be looked at for future expansion. The borough has planning powers and staff effort must be directed toward those efforts. The borough also has to take a realistic approach toward developing Wards Cove, preferably by encouraging the development of a variety of uses for the property. We can not wait for another large manufacturer to suddenly materialize and solve our problems.

Water resources - It's time to seriously consider how best to take advantage of the one renewable resource that we have local control over - our water. As large portions of the American West continue to dry up, it is likely that there will be a future for pipelines or water shipments from the north. We need to be looking ahead for ways to encourage private industry in that direction. The borough now has both a dam and a water pipeline in Wards Cove so much of the infrastructure is in place.

Borough lands - Access to Gravina must to be improved by either additional ferries or a bridge. I am concerned that by pushing the state to aim for the most expensive possible (two high bridges) alternative we have won the battle but lost the war. It is hard to imagine the federal and state governments allocating more than $200 million to Ketchikan for the bridges. In Prince Rupert, they are considering a similar two bridge proposal and are pegging the cost at only $130 million (Canadian). We need to also be looking at a more cost efficient alternative or we may end up with no improved access at all.


I don't claim to have all the answers, but I have learned two very valuable skills in the last twenty years: To find the people who know the answers and to ask plenty of questions. We have two ears and one mouth for a good reason.


Please feel free to contact me at any time, regarding these or any other issues.





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Ketchikan, Alaska