Candidate for Ketchikan Borough Assembly
When I first arrived here some seven years ago, someone told me I would either love it here, or hate it and not last. I love it here. And here I stayed.
I grew up in a small town in the Midwest: Wamego, Kansas. I worked several jobs to put myself through college and was able to still graduate on-time with a degree in Business Administration/Accounting from the University of Kansas. I then earned a law degree from the University of Kansas School of Law. I have worked in public accounting and banking, in addition to practicing law. My legal work has encompassed municipal, real-estate, business and family law. I am currently an attorney in private practice in Ketchikan.
I married a local girl, Kim Simpson, Kayhi Class of '81. All told, we have 7 children – 4 of whom either are or will be Kayhi grads. Kim's parents, Lyle and Olga Simpson, started Timber & Marine and ran it for decades before selling it to their employees. Through my wife, I have extended family with deep roots that go back generations in SE Alaska.
I want to be on the Borough Assembly to participate in the process of making sure our future generations love it here and want to be here. That they also want to raise their families here, and want to thrive here.
EXPERIENCE AND QUALIFICATIONS:
I was previously a municipal attorney both in Missouri and here in Ketchikan before opening my own law office, so I understand how governing bodies should operate. As an attorney, I have represented schools and governing bodies in a variety of issues, and I am familiar with the state statutes, laws and regulations, and with the legislative process.
I have been on the Ketchikan Gateway School Board for about 4 years and it has taught me a lot about governing - how to be efficient, to prepare adequately and to keep the best interests of the community as a whole at heart.
I believe I am unique, in that I have a rational and reasonable perspective when faced with major decisions that have far reaching implications, such as those that we will be facing in the next few years.
The next few years will determine what kind of community we leave to our children.
On the one hand - we have some wonderful opportunities ahead of us with the expansion of the Coast Guard base, the growth of the shipyard and the hospital, and the nearby mining ventures which should create additional jobs here in the borough.
But on the other hand – our state's poor fiscal condition will have a negative impact on us all.
I believe that local government creates a climate for economic growth and stability only when it acts wisely in the allocation of resources and services. If local government does not act prudently, then it becomes a roadblock through high taxes, regulations and bureaucracy.
I have no hidden agenda or special interest. I want to represent all of the citizens, both inside the city limits or out, and help make wise, prudent decisions about the services we provide, the quality of education we offer to our children, and what we can do that will enhance the quality of life for all of us.
State Budget Woes
There will be some tough decisions ahead. We may not be able to do all that we want, but we must do all that we should. It will require careful consideration, research, discussion and listening to the residents to properly allocate our limited resources at a time when money from the state is shrinking.
And I believe strongly that if we do not have a vibrant and growing local economy, or if we do not provide government services for the type of community where people want to live, then that allocation of resources becomes even more difficult.
For me, the voters have spoken – both here locally and statewide. When all those people voted Yes they were expressing their desire to allow reasonable commerce and consumption of cannabis.
I don't think a single voter went into the booth thinking “I will vote Yes – but I want the Marijuana Control Board to put up as many silly roadblocks and impediments as possible.”
Our regulators need to acknowledge the will of the people, but still craft reasonable rules that protect our community. And then lets turn it into a benefit, and impose a reasonable tax on its sales to make up for some of the shortfalls from the state.
Is School Funding Adequate?
We are close. We do not provide the same level of local contributions to our schools as do our peer communities For example, Juneau provides funding at 102% of the cap – or the maximum allowed by law. We are well short of that.
But I do not favor a big influx of local funding. I think this past year, an additional $300,000 - $400,000 would have allowed us to really enhance the quality of education we provide. That is only a 1% increase in the budget.
Cooperative Relations Between the Borough and the City
I have been on the school board for about 4 years. I know there are issues upon which others will have a different opinion. I've dealt with some who always think they are the smartest person in the room, and treat you with disdain or a roll of the eyes when you speak up or ask a question.
I found that the most effective elected officials are those who are willing to not just listen to others' opinions, but to actually give them thoughtful consideration even though they may end up voting a different way.
We are all stuck here on an island together. We need to be able to disagree, but still be cordial both during meetings and when we run into one another at the store or the monthly grind.
It makes no sense to me that in a community this size we have both a city manager and a borough manager, 2 clerks, 2 finance managers, 2 legal departments and so on. And now there are some who want to add yet another governmental body in Ward Cove with still more duplication.
But if we are going to look at consolidation, we must give it proper consideration, and have a good open discussion of the pros and cons, so that any decision on consolidation is made on the basis of facts, sound reasoning and the best interests of the community as a whole, rather than on mis-trust, emotions, or unfounded promises.
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