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John Harrington
Candidate for the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly - Three Year Term


Published: Friday
September 23, 2005

John Harrington

John Harrington

I am John Harrington and I am seeking your vote for the Borough Assembly.


I am a teacher by profession. I have been a special education teacher a director of Special Education and I also coordinated the local Adult Education program until I retired. Currently I operate a residential real estate rental business.

Previous elected office:

  • I have served on the local school board for seven years.
  • I am a member of the Charter Commission, and
  • I chair the North Tongass Service Area Board.

With three seats open and nine of us seeking those seats, this year, you the voter have a real choice. So examine our positions statements, select the three you want on your assembly and be sure to Vote Oct. 4th.

Position Statement:

Economic Development: With the sale of the Borough property at Ward Cove the Borough has a second chance to leverage 20 million dollars to promote economic development. There are several models in use across the country that the borough could adopt to effectively leverage this money. I believe the best model for us will include partnering with local financial institutions to offer reduced interest or loan guarantees for small business start-up. I would be opposed spending any significant portion of these revenues without a vote of the people.

Transparency of public information: Any one who has watched our Charter Commission meetings will be aware of how much I value transparency in financial matters, and the public disclosure of all information. All significant purchase or sales agreement should have a period of public review with all pertinent details prior to adoption. If borough financial documents can not be readily understood by the average citizen then those documents need to be reconfigured to meet that standard.

Funding Education to the Cap: Education has been my occupation and my priority. It is the single most important aspect of local government. If elected I hope that the Assembly will receive an education budget that I can support and vote to fund to the cap. Even though it is my priority, it would be irresponsible of me, or any candidate, to say I will vote to fund to the cap without seeing the educational budget. To say now, that if elected, I would vote to fund to the cap is a dereliction of duty and crass political pandering.

Sales Tax Deposit and Management: The borough has established a sales tax deposit for all new businesses in the Borough. This deposit is an impediment to business start up, and does very little to insure compliance with sales tax requirements. The current deposit system needs to be reviewed and there needs to be an increase in the periodic review for sales tax compliance-particularly of the jewelry and other seasonal "fly-by-summer" businesses.

Ferry Fees: Recently the Borough Assembly raised the rate for the airport ferry. They also provided a steep discount if you buy 100 tickets. The end result is that locals pay the full rate and tour operators arrange a cut rate for tourists. That was a mistake. Speaking of mistakes, what the Assembly did to the "Water Taxi" is just not right. I want to promote private business access to the airport not discourage it. Let's examine making the ferry free for passengers, and charge a $5 fee for everyone taking off or landing in Ketchikan.

Schoenbar: What a mess - the work of major construction jobs isn't over when the bids are awarded. That is when the real work begins. The borough needs to have competent oversight during the entire construction process.

Expansion of the borough boundaries: The folks in Shoreline know what is like to be forcibly annexed. It is not something I would promote. We can not provide services to any of these areas. If elected, and the annexation become a reality, I will propose a special mill rate for any of these annexed lands. A mill rate that will reflect the actual services we provide.

Ethics: If an action of the Borough Assembly or any of its members has the appearance of favoritism the whole system suffers from the public distrust. Some actions of assembly in the past have not passed that "smell test." I know of no actual wrong doing, but the impression is there. Some current members have said that the Assembly can regulate itself. I doubt it. If they could have, they would have.

Micro Management and Assembly Member Training: The role of an Assembly Member is extremely limited. He or she has NO authority except during a meeting when joined by three or more votes. Every year the Borough Clerk offers to send the newly elected members for training. Historically few have taken her up on the offer. The lack of knowledge of the appropriate role and function of an assembly member causes problems. The role of the Assembly is to set the policy for the Borough. When the Assembly takes on the role of telling the staff not only what to do, but how to do it, they cross the line into micro management. The problem with micro management is that you cannot hold the staff accountable if you do their work. There is only one time when micro management is appropriate. That is for that period during which you fire one manager, and hire another.




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Ketchikan, Alaska