Trevor A. Shaw
Candidate for Ketchikan Borough Assembly
Being an elected official is not easy, nor should it be. That is all the truer this year and the next few years to come. Public service should never be about convenience, it should always be about commitment, no matter the circumstances. Unfortunately, I hear COVID-19 being used often as an excuse as why things aren’t getting done or why there is the inability to make necessary, meaningful changes. In reality, we should be using COVID as the excuse to work harder and make those changes.
That is why I decided to run for Borough Assembly this year.
Our community needs strong, dedicated leadership. I believe that leadership comes in the form of a strong team. A team consisting of people with diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and strengths. We have a very good Borough Assembly in Ketchikan right now, and I would be honored to contribute to their work with my unique background and experience.
For most of my primary education, I was homeschooled. In middle school and high school, I had a very blended education: a combination of homeschool, correspondence, traditional classes, and distance learning. Much like what many of our students are having to do in the current environment. I earned my high school diploma from the Ketchikan School District in 2014. Ketchikan afforded me the opportunity to build my educational experience in a way that worked for me to succeed as an individual. I want nothing more than for every student in Ketchikan to have those same opportunities.
That is why I ran for School Board in 2013 while I was still a senior in high school. Being elected by my community that year was honestly the honor of a lifetime. To me, there is nothing more solemn than serving as an elected representative of the community that you were raised in.
I’m proud of the many accomplishments that we achieved during my time on the Board. However, experience isn’t just about the positive aspects of service. Lessons learned and moments of growth are just as important. My time on the School Board ended in 2018 when I resigned before an effort to recall me from the Board was scheduled to go before the voters.
At the time, I’ll admit it was hard to accept. Now, I wouldn’t change the experience for the world. It provided me with a new perspective and greater understanding of the public process, and why it so profoundly important that every voice and view be afforded equal protection and representation in that process. A quote that I often use: “I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. I believe sound, balanced policy is built through a robust public process and from the perspectives of many. On any issue there are two sides, sometimes more, and in my experience the best solution generally falls somewhere right in the middle.
2. Experience and Education
• High School Diploma, Ketchikan School District; 2014.
• Youth Assistant, Ketchikan Youth Court; 2012-2014.
• Member Service Rep., Tongass Federal Credit Union; 2014-2015.
• Member Service Specialist, Tongass Federal Credit Union; 2015-2016.
• Accounting Technician, Alaska Marine Highway System; 2016.
• Administrative Manager, Ward Cove Group; 2016-2020.
• Vice President & Clinic Manager, Creekside Family Health Clinic; 2019-Present.
• Member, Ketchikan Friends of NRA Committee; 2006-Present.
• Director, United Youth Courts of Alaska; 2012-2014.
• Co-President, United Youth Courts of Alaska; 2012-2013.
• President, Ketchikan Youth Court Bar Association; 2012-2014.
• Member, Ketchikan School Board; 2013-2018.
• Member, Alaska Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee; 2015-2018.
• President, Ketchikan School Board; 2016-2018.
• Director, Association of Alaska School Boards; 2017-2018.
Honors and Awards:
• University of Alaska Scholar; 2014.
• Alaska’s Top Forty Under 40; 2018.
3. Identify at least two significant issues and challenges facing our community
I. Economic Development
In June 2020, the International Monetary Fund in their routine World Economic Outlook Update declared the COVID-19 pandemic to be “A Crisis Like No Other, An Uncertain Recovery”. We’re all feeling the negative economic impacts of the pandemic. Truthfully, we should all be prepared to see the aggravation of those impacts this winter when the small seasonal boost to the economy that we had this year ends in the coming weeks.
While there are many concerns to be had, I believe we have good reason to be optimistic about our local recovery. I am confident in stating that we are probably the best equipped community in the State of Alaska to weather the “storm” at hand.
In the short-term, I think there are some creative things we can do with the CARES Act funds held by the City and the Borough. Such as using some of those to funds to help with things like employer and employee health insurance premiums, allowing more dollars to be spent in the local economy this winter. Another possibility is using some of those funds to help with professional services for businesses and non-profits, such as accountants, attorneys, and financial analysts.
These services could be very beneficial in help those entities prepare and plan for the long-term in how to adjust appropriately to the impacts of the pandemic. This would essentially allow those in need in our community to stretch these one-time CARES Act funds and make the appropriations more effective and effectual.
In the long-term, the Borough should be looking at creative and innovative ways to foster economic development in our community. A few ideas that I believe are worth exploring:
a. The Borough could potentially provide property and sales tax credits or deferrals to companies that purchase raw land in the Borough with specific plans to develop improvements, that have specific plans to create additional jobs in the Borough, or that relocate their headquarters or a production/manufacturing operation to the Borough.
b. The Borough could promote non-cruise industry related tourism development in our community. We should be encouraging the diversification of our economy, including within tourism itself. Cruise Ships are not the be all, end all. Now is the time to actively seek the expansion of independent and small-group travel to Ketchikan. Our town is a safe, pristine environment for tourists to visit in the aftermath of the Coronavirus. Plus, directing some of our focus towards smaller group travel allows us to better protect the interest and health of our residents.
c. Again, in the aftermath of Coronavirus, the economy is shifting toward remote and telecommuting services and support. As a Borough, we should explore the possibility of how we could expand and foster that industry here in Ketchikan. As the focus of the worldwide economy shifts to accommodate appropriate, and widespread investments pour into that focus, we would be remiss not to seek those opportunities in Ketchikan.
These are just some ideas that we could readily explore. As an Assembly, we should dedicate time, effort, and resources to discover and develop ways for our local economy to grow and flourish. Economic Development is always at the forefront, but it more important now than ever before. It is going to take community-wide, collective brainstorming to figure out how we can standout and thrive in the post-pandemic world. Creativity through Collaboration is the key to success for our community.
II. Fiscal Sustainability
The State of Alaska was already facing hard financial times before the pandemic ever hit. We’ve all hard for many years now how reserves are running dry and how low oil prices mean less revenue. This fiscal crisis led the Alaska State Legislature to start taking draws out of the Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve Account (the same account used to pay PFDs) to help fund State Government operations.
In May 2020, the Earnings Reserve had more than $17.6 billion. As of July 31, 2020, the Earnings Reserve was down to just $5.5 billion. This drastic decrease in funds is primarily due to one reason: The Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation had to sell investments at a low in order to make the distributions to fund government as approved by the legislature.
The moral of the story is that the State fiscal crisis is even worse than before. That is sure to have a trickle-down effect on the Borough’s economy and budget, and that is in the midst of the pandemic. Ketchikan is sure to have some difficult financial and budgetary decisions to make soon. We are going to need to use the creativity and innovation that Ketchikan is known for to solve this issue. There is no simple answer. We will have to find ways to make our dollars go farther, make cuts smartly where we can, and continue to fund necessary services.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not a believer in tax-and-spend budgeting, but I also don’t think that trash-and-slash budgeting works either. We must find the right balance; we must engage in smart spending and fiscal restraint. My approach to how government should work, to quote a Daft Punk song, is harder, better, faster, stronger. It is of paramount importance to ensure that our local government is a “lean, mean, prosperity-fueling machine” during this time of economic and budgetary turmoil.
Strength through Stewardship is the key to sustainability in our community.
There are many issues facing our community. Some of these issues are fairly routine, and others are as a result of the pandemic. Some will be fairly easy to resolve, and some are really going to test the resolve of our community.
We are all in this together. We are going to have to work together to find meaningful solutions that are truly effective for Ketchikan. There isn’t one perspective or approach that is going to fix the issues that we face, nor should there be.
As a friend of mine said on Facebook the other day, I am blessed to live in a community that accepts that I have flaws. It is not about how you fall; it’s about how you get back up. I don’t have all the answers to the problems we face, and I’ll be the first to admit it. I still have a lot to learn in my journey of public service, and I hope to use my passion to do just that.
My commitment to you is to work tirelessly. To come into each meeting more humble than the last. To leave no stone unturned on the issues that come before the Assembly. To promote the integrity, transparency, and openness of the public process. To encourage the participation of every voice and perspective. To provide a venue and a platform for ideas from across the spectrum to be proposed. To contribute to the development and implementation of thoughtful, positive, impactful solutions.
As the father of a young child, I want to see a future that is brighter for the next generation(s) of our community. As the owner of a small business, I want to see stability and opportunity for my employees, my family, our customers, and our neighbors. As the husband of a born-and-raised Ketchikan girl, I want to protect and grow the life and quality-of-life that we have enjoyed together and where we want to raise our family. As a public servant and leader, I want to stand up for the people and the values of our community that serve as the foundation and heartbeat of our way of life.
We might not agree on all the issues. Heck, I have never found someone who agrees with me on everything! But we can disagree without being disagreeable. We can work together on the issues, even if we never have before. After all, government only works best for everyone when everyone shows up to demand the best from government. Ketchikan, we find our Resilience through Reliance on others in our community.
I hope to use my unique experience and dynamic background, with the successes and flaws alike, to serve each and every person in Ketchikan on the Borough Assembly.
I would be honored to have your vote on October 6th.
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