1. What do you believe is the biggest issue facing the city? What will you do about it?
Our city is stalled out. Because we have no plan for the future, the city reacts to whatever challenge or opportunity comes along instead of moving toward specific, community-identified goals. I will bring together stakeholders from throughout Fairbanks to create a community business plan. We will discuss where we want to go, how we want to get there and how we are going to pay for it.
2. How do you intend to address the city’s revenue shortfall? What options are you willing to explore to raise revenues?
As part of our business planning effort, I will work to help the community understand our current revenue structure, its impact on our goals and options to address these. I hope to get a sense of what city residents want to do and then move forward to implement that. The options range from doing nothing to asking the people for approval of a new revenue source.
3. Chief of Staff Mike Meeks has said that the city can no longer “salami slice” in regards to the budget - whole departments would need to be cut entirely to stay solvent. If revenues do not rise, which departments would you consider eliminating first? Which would you not ever cut?
I don’t believe that we can cut any department. We must fund police and fire to keep our community safe and fund public works to keep our roads maintained. I think we must instead focus on finding efficiencies and pursuing tools that allow us to collect revenues to the revenue cap. I was sorry that Jerry Cleworth’s proposal to eliminate the cap within the cap was not put on the ballot.
4. If the business community does not contribute enough funding to maintain the current levels of the Emergency Service Patrol, how should the city respond?
The Emergency Service Patrol is a critical service that supports our most vulnerable citizens and serves our community. We need to continue to encourage the business community to support the program. As mayor, I will personally meet with businesses, such as Fred Meyer, Safeway and Walmart, to ask for their support. Another far less desirable option would be to cut the service area back to the city core.
5. What are your views on the legal marijuana industry?
I support the legal marijuana industry, and I look forward to working with the entrepreneurs in this industry as they contribute to our city’s economic vitality.
6. How will you, if you are elected, support vulnerable residents? Who do you consider a vulnerable resident?
I consider our vulnerable residents to be the marginalized among us. This includes people who suffer from mental health challenges, addiction, homelessness, poverty and the accompanying vulnerability to financial setbacks. I will support these residents by continuing to support the many dedicated organizations and coalitions that support them. This includes attending meetings, educating myself, defending funding, meeting with vulnerable populations and supporting programs.
7. What should the city do to support existing businesses and attract new business to Fairbanks? How would you, as mayor, accommodate this?
I have been meeting with many of the great entrepreneurs we have in our community to find out what they need to be successful. I have heard that we need to address downtown parking, snow removal and public safety. Additional answers will be identified in the business planning process. As mayor, I will work closely with area entrepreneurs and businesses to execute the goals identified in our business plan.
8. How should the city approach LGBTQ rights? How will you?
I approach LGBTQ rights as human rights and believe the city should, too. All people need to be treated equally under the law. Currently, some community members are not protected under federal, state or local housing or employment law. The city had the opportunity to rectify this at the local level. I supported the City Council vote. Had I been mayor, I would have let the City Council’s decision stand.
9. Consolidation of the city of Fairbanks and the Fairbanks North Star Borough governments was discussed in the 1990s. Do you favor consolidation? Why or why not?
I think we should explore whether consolidation or unification makes economic sense. We have three mayors, three councils/assemblies and three administrations. Common sense suggests we could be more efficient and see significant savings. But consolidation is a complex project to evaluate and implement. I support asking the question, identifying the challenges and costs, and if it appears a worthy idea, asking the voters if they want to pursue it.