SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Ty Rettke

Candidate for Ketchikan Borough Assembly 2008
Three-Year Term - Three Seats Open


Published: September 24, 2008
Received: September 16, 2008


Dear Editor and Citizens at large,

I seemed to have jumped the gun a little bit by publishing a letter a week or so ago introducing myself, so I'll be brief with my introduction and try to stick mainly to issues instead.

I am 23 years old, and have lived in Ketchikan for 18 of those years. I have worked at Schallerer's Photo, where most of you will recognize me, and currently work for the Harbor Masters office on the docks as an Assistant Harbor Master with Port Security, where many more of you will recognize me. I co-founded Ketchikan Youth Initiatives, a non profit that focuses on empowering the youth in the community to be heard and to accomplish goals with the help of adult mentors. We have dealt mostly with alternate activities, such as the paintball field out north, and one of our current endeavors, a covered skate park. We also are interested in a work force development and encouraging young entrepreneurs, as well as providing safe places for young people to be, such as the Water Warehouse redevelopment project that we are currently undertaking.

I have many interests and hobbies which all together are not a common assemblage and make birthday shopping quite the hassle, I m told. I am an avid Photographer, having done it as a living for a time. This compliments my love of the outdoors nicely, including hiking, fishing, camping, and boating. While I don t hunt very often, I do enjoy shooting and anything to do with firearms. I find history fascinating, especially ancient history. I am a tinker-er who loves to take things apart and see what makes them tick. I find science fascinating, physical sciences, but also biology to some extent. I am a collector of many things, most notably coins, friends and witty sayings. I love jokes and find most anything amusing. I have played guitar for 8 years, much to my neighbors dismay. I love to read, mysteries, non-fiction, crime, sci-fi, classics, novels, short stories, ghost stories, magazines, and basically anything that can capture my imagination. I enjoy movies of all genres, but comedy and horror seem to be the most captivating. I enjoy The history channel, the Discovery Channel and The Learning Channel, as well as most any comedy show, and I m also a sucker for LOST. (my one true addiction) I am open and honest, two things that we do not usually associate with politicians, but I think that anyone who has talked to me for any length of time will agree that I am.

The thing that I believe in most strongly is that Ketchikan is my home and that I want to remain my home. It feels like home to me even when my parents moved away, and I stayed, much to their disappointment. (Or at least they acted disappointed).
As for the things that I think could help Ketchikan, and issues that face our community, I will try to list out some of them here.

Holiday on sales tax for heating fuel. This is something that will make those recent checks from the state last a bit longer, and for businesses will drop the price of heating their establishments back to levels from earlier in the year, hopefully delaying the time when prices have to increase (again in some cases) to offset losses from raising bills.

Sidewalks- While most of the side walks in town are City owned, the downtown corridor is considered a tourism area, and there for, some of the borough's money from the head tax could be combined with a similar city initiative to start rebuilding some of the horribly decrepit side walks, and maybe increasing the visibility and functionality of the equipment made to keep tourists on the sidewalks and out of the road. Speaking from experience as a crossing guard/port security, the ropes around the corner of Front and Mill St only deter a portion of the would be "Frogger" tourists. The rest are warned and protected by the port security crew and crossing guards. Working with the city on a project like this could prove to be a very good use of these funds.

I am also making it a priority to continue work on a Covered Skate Park, which has already taken some form, but will still require a dedicated focus to complete. This project was began years ago, and most recently has been taken up by Ketchikan Youth Initiatives. We have had great experience in working with the Planning department and Parks and Rec as of recently, and I hope to continue to help this project along, and will be glad when the time comes to be able to vote on it in a meeting. The other benefit to this process is the interaction between the young people involved in it and the government staff. It really invigorates and empowers them both, I think, to see the inner workings of such a project and enthusiasm behind it. It will lead to great things from these young leaders as they mature into our community and other communities.

Education is an extremely important facet of the community. We need to give every opportunity to our school system an at each level, to prepare our children to enter the work force or go on to additional schooling. A healthy community can not remain so without a properly equipped and funded school system. We will not attract new businesses or families to this community with out it, nor will young people be able to stay here with out the promise of a vibrant school system for their future children.

A Pool, Library, etc. Things such as a pool, well equipped library, and businesses that provide entertainment and non-essential comfort, are very important to a community, in the same way that well funded school system is; we will not be able to attract new families, or new businesses and industries without being able to provide enough and varied forms of entertainment and services.

Ward Cove Property: If the final outcome of the financial actions taken on the current occupants ends with the Borough owning fully (again) the old pulp mill site, then what needs to happen is that it be quickly made available to businesses, even if its at a reduced rate. Offer new businesses as big of a break as can be afforded on the property, with some limitations and conditions, but in effect get things moving out there! Even only charging a portion of the market rent would result in more income than property tax would, and it will still hold value to us. While the business is beginning, sitting in a cheap location, they can work out bugs that might otherwise cause them to fail early on, and maybe gain enough strength over a year or two to move out to a market level spot, and allow a new business to come in. Or they may fail and the borough has lost nothing. Clean up the mess left behind and let another entrepreneur give it a whirl.

Listening: I think that most important source of information about how to make this community better is to listen to the people that live here. Hearing from various groups, attending meetings of as many of them as possible, especially groups that are interested in economic development and business growth. Many of these groups will have ideas that could make doing business in this town easier on the business owners, and help them be more successful, which makes the community more successful. More money to businesses means more money available to employees, to charity groups, and more luxury items bought by the owners of such businesses. The money really does flow around if we buy local, and work with businesses to address concerns and with people to address problems in other areas. By listening to these groups and hearing both sides, we can make better decisions as leaders.

Those are some points upfront that I have heard questions about and problems that have been brought to my attention in recent conversations. If you have any ideas or other issues you would like an answer on, either publicly in the forum that will be starting here on SITnews, or in an email reply to only you, please feel free to email me at RETTKE@KPUNET.NET

Tyrell Rettke
Ketchikan Youth Initiatives

2008 Candidates' Forum Post your question(s) for the candidates:
2008 Candidates' Forum (click here)
Forum Launched 09/24/08


Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska