My name is Dave Kiffer and I have been on the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly for the past three years.
I was born and raised in Ketchikan and have spent most of my life here. Like many Ketchikan "kids" I have lived a few other places, but keep coming back to the town that will always be home.
My wife is Charlotte Glover and we have a 5 12 year old son, Liam Benjamin Kiffer.
I ask for your support on October 3, but, more importantly, I ask you to simply vote on that day. Elections in which only 30 percent of the voters turn out are unacceptable.
My reason for running remains the same as it was in 2003, to make a difference and do my part to make Ketchikan a better community. My family has lived in Ketchikan for five generations and it is important to give back to a place that has given us so much over the years.
The borough has several important roles to play in the community and I'd like to think that I have helped in the last three years.
The most important borough role is ensure that the local education system in adequately funding. The past three years, I have voted each year to fund the district to the maximum amount allowed under state law. In one of those years the borough chose not to fund "to the cap" but my own personal commitment is clear.
The borough is also responsible for making sure that our school facilities are the best they can possibly be. Schoenbar Middle School has been in the news relentlessly in the past three years and not in a good way.
Although I was not responsible for some of the earliest decisions on the project, I have been responsible for the past three years. I voted last year not to "fire" the original contractor. At the time, I believed that the only way that the school would be open this fall (2006) was by sticking with the original contractor. I was wrong.
But another decision that I made - to not accept the school as complete late this spring - was the right one. As we have worked with a new contractor to finish the building, we have discovered a large number of problems within the building that had been quite literally "covered up." We are spending more money to "fix" the building, but at least we can be a lot more confident that the building is being completed in a manner that the community desires and deserves.
And, the problems we have had completing the project have not been repeated on the new Fawn Mountain Elementary School. We have learned from previous mistakes.
The other prime borough function is economic development. In the past three years, we have brought the Marine Highway System administration offices to Ketchikan. We have secured significant additional federal funding for the Ketchikan shipyard. We have begun to remove the economic "albatross" of Ward Cove that has been perched on the taxpayers shoulders the last several years.
The properties on the east side of Ward Cove have been sold to the private sector. And an agreement is in place with a developer for the west side (the mill property) as well. We have done our part to create an economic environment that could allow the Veneer Mill to reopen and we have used whatever lobbying muscle the community has to press for a reasonable timber supply to keep it open.
The borough has also taken steps in the past three years to open up development on Gravina Island. That includes support for the bridge funding and the building of roads that will access borough, state, federal and private land on the island. Again, I don't claim to have done all this by myself, but I have been part of the solution.
Looking ahead the biggest issue facing the community is power. We can't attract new businesses if we can't guarantee power. We need to complete the Southeast Electrical Intertie. We must lobby the state to finish it. Although there are some other options out there, they won't - in the end - be any cheaper than finishing the intertie and it will take years to clear the regulatory hurdles. We don't have years to wait on this one.
Quality of Life
The borough also has some sway in making Ketchikan a better place to live. We have parks and recreation powers, we have transportation powers and we have planning and zoning powers.
In some ways, these areas also dovetail with economic development because if any of those areas aren't functioning properly, then we are not realizing the maximum economic potential of the community. Those areas are also important for the quality of life.
Just some examples. Ketchikan's long, narrow, wet community means that we have to have a public transportation system. It isn't an option to think otherwise. If the private sector can't make it work (and it has failed at different times in the past) then it is government's responsibility.
Our planning and zoning system allows us to avoid the chaos of an unregulated community and prevents - as much as possible - the likelihood that a neighbor's use of their property will prevent you from enjoying yours.
And a town that doesn't provide recreational opportunities to its residents isn't much of a town in my book. Especially since we live in a community where outdoor activities are sharply curtailed during most of the year.
You will never hear me advocate for cuts in those areas or say they are areas where the government has no responsibility. They make it possible for families like mine to live here. There is no greater government responsibility than that.
I also strongly support the White Cliff Center project. A facility that would boost both our senior citizens and our arts community is long overdue. A community that doesn't look after its youth and its elderly isn't really a community.
Just final word about Ketchikan's
senior population. We have one of the most rapidly growing senior
citizen populations in the state. And the majority of these seniors
have spent most - if not all - of their lives in Ketchikan. They
have built the community that we enjoy and it is crucial for
us to make it possible for them to continue to live here and
contribute to the economic and social fabric of Ketchikan. Therefore,
I am also a strong supporter of the senior property and sales
tax exemptions. These folks have already put more than enough
into our community. I won't vote to take it away.