3-year term - One Seat Open
Published: October 01, 2011
There are two big issues that face Borough Government: Economic development and education funding.
One of the borough government’s main roles in the community is to promote “economic development,” to help boost the local economy and make it possible for Ketchikan residents to have jobs and be able to live and work here.
That is not an easy task because “economic development” is a very broad concept.
First, the borough government must “do no harm.” It must not over-regulate the private sector either by over-taxing it or creating regulatory burdens. All local governments say they “are open for business” but those are just words. You need to look at the actions. Over the past several years, the Borough has taken a closer look at its regulations and tried to pare them down where possible. Some regulation is always necessary to protect the overall public good, but sometimes government does get in the way and I pledge to work to prevent that.
That leaves the hardest part of “economic development.” The “promote” part. Ten different people will have ten different ideas about what that means. I feel that it means to take action to enhance existing industry in the community without using government funds to create competition for the private sector that has already put its money into building Ketchikan. Often government hears ideas that a pitched as an “expansion” of the economy but are really little more than attempts to slice the existing pie in to smaller pieces. That benefits no one.
The other – and more important - part of the process is to see where we can expand the local economy. Can we promote new industries to Ketchikan? And that is an unequivocal yes. In recent years, the borough has been working to promote potential industries such as mining and mariculture. We will continue to do that. There is a third “m” as well. Martime technology and shipbuilding. There is absolutely no reason why Ketchikan can’t become the Alaska center for that industry and bring hundreds of good paying, year round jobs to our area.
Education funding is the other big issue for the Borough. It is our job to determine the appropriate level of funding for the school district. Reasonable minds can disagree on what that level is. But I feel that we should provide the highest level we can afford. The biggest challenge I see that the process needs to have the different parties – the borough and the school district – work together or the result is not a good one.
Before I was mayor, I was on the liaison committee between the school board and the assembly. The members didn’t always agree, but they worked together to sort through their differences. We need to return to the idea that it doesn’t need to be an adversarial relationship and as mayor I will continue to do what I can to tune down the rhetoric and tune up the results.
Which brings me one of the largest parts of the Borough Mayor’s job. I consider the Borough Mayor to be the “ambassador” for the community. It is the job of the mayor to represent Ketchikan to the outside world. The mayor needs to be a good communicator and able to pass along Ketchikan’s position on a variety of issues to the outside world. I have doing that just about my whole life. It is also the mayor’s job to be a sounding board for the members of the community. The mayor will often be approached by the public with concerns or questions about local government. It is the mayor’s job to take those questions and concerns back to the other government officials and get answers.
That also holds for situations that require cooperation between our various local governments (city, borough, Saxman, school board etc). I pledge to continue to do my best to get everybody in the same room, talking about what is best for the entire community of “Ketchikan.”
I was born and raised in Ketchikan, my 10-year-old son Liam is a fifth generation Ketchikan resident, my wife Charlotte has worked at the Ketchikan Public Library for more than 20 years. Our family is committed to making Ketchikan a better place to live and work, not only for the present, but the future as well.
I would be honored to serve as your mayor for another term!
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