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For mayoral runoff, candidates need to offer sensible pollution solutions

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Posted: Wednesday, October 7, 2009 4:48 pm | Updated: 12:52 pm, Wed Dec 26, 2012.

FAIRBANKS — With the next election four weeks off, Luke Hopkins and Tammie Wilson will be trying to attract voters who opted for Garry Hutchison, Hank Bartos and Charlie Boddy the first time around.

Hopkins edged Wilson 32 percent to 31 percent, with absentee and questioned ballots yet to be counted, but the other one-third of the voting populace is the unclaimed November surprise.

Winning those 5,000 voters over will be one challenge. Getting them to the polls will be another, as special elections don’t usually attract the same attention as the regular kind.

This one might be different, however, as the two candidates have sharply differing views and approaches to local government.

When there are only two candidates, it’s easier to contrast and compare.

A series of events in which the two candidates appear together and address the same issues at the same time would best serve the community.

In recommending that the borough take on the job of dealing with air pollution, borough voters have set the stage for what will be one of the major campaign issues.

Hopkins has called for the borough to take the lead developing an attainment plan, one that would “provide ways for Fairbanks to burn wood for heat while providing cleaner winter air. We must look at other emission sources to understand what these fixes should be. Affordable natural gas is our best long-term solution.”

Wilson has said, “The borough should not automatically roll over for the EPA when, as they admit, the air quality studies are inconclusive. Nor should the borough ban woodstoves. It is every person’s right to heat their home, responsibly, with any natural resource available they can afford.”

Everyone agrees that we love wood stoves in Fairbanks. The air pollution quandary is a complicated matter that deserves a thorough public discussion in the weeks to come.

It’s no easy matter to develop a sensible air quality plan that can reduce the yellow haze over the valley and yet gain public support. But that’s where the candidates should be pointing.

•••

ROTARY EXCHANGE: Students looking for a good education about other parts of the world often find just what they need in the Rotary Youth Exchange program.

Parents and students who want to learn more about the possibilities of studying abroad are invited to a meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Ryan Middle School Multipurpose Room.

Students who traveled to other countries last year and their parents are to speak about their experiences.

The local Rotary clubs are seeking applications to fill four positions next year for students ages 14 to 16. Most of the students are juniors in high school when they travel overseas.

This is a chance to learn about another nation, serve as an unofficial ambassador for our country and make new friends.

Applications for the 2010-2011 school year are due Oct. 16.

More information is available online at www.fairbanksrotary.org, or by calling Cheryl Keepers of College Rotary at 474-8063.

Other Rotary representatives working on the project include Mary and Jim Johnsen of Fairbanks Downtown Rotary and Dr. Scott Luper of Fairbanks Sunrisers Rotary.

•••

ARCTIC TALK: University of Alaska Fairbanks Professor Terry Chapin will speak on “Sustainability in a Changing Arctic: Forces for Change and Sustainability Options,” at 7 p.m. today in Room 401 of the Akasofu Building at UAF.

If you have a column item, contact me at cole@newsminer.com or

459-7530.

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