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Posted: Sunday, September 23, 2012 12:23 am | Updated: 11:30 am, Mon Jan 21, 2013.

Letter to the editor

Sept. 17, 2012

To the editor:

I want to encourage my friends and neighbors in the Fairbanks North Star Borough to re-elect Luke Hopkins as our mayor on Oct. 2. Although I do not know Luke well personally, he has consistently impressed me with his thoughtful efforts to improve our community as a member of the Borough Assembly, including two terms as its presiding officer, and as our mayor.

During his long service with the University of Alaska Fairbanks as superintendent of building maintenance and facilities planning, Luke developed strong management skills, which he brought to the table when he began to serve the larger community. His budgetary competence has enabled the FNSB to achieve unprecedented financial stability during his tenure as our mayor.

While protecting the important services that make Fairbanks a great place to live, Luke trimmed inefficiencies and reduced the property tax mill rate each year he has been in office and still achieved a $13.8 million budget surplus in fiscal year 2011. One happy result of Mayor Hopkins’ management of our money has been that the FNSB’s bond rating — a reflection of Wall Street’s sober assessment of our local government’s effectiveness — was increased twice recently, saving us over $8 million. In their letter to the borough, bond raters Standard and Poor’s cited the borough’s “consistently strong financial profile,” “prudent financial management,” “conservative budgeting” and “very low debt levels.”

In contrast to Luke’s stellar performance, Norm Phillips, his opponent in the mayoral election recently admitted in a public forum that he had never read the FNSB budget and doesn’t know what he would cut. Even so, Mr. Phillips insisted we can “do less with less.”

Aside from his expert management of our budget, Luke has shown strong leadership in the effort to ensure Eielson Air Force Base’s continued relevance in the Pentagon’s planning.

Similarly, while other politicians wring their hands over high energy costs for Fairbanks families but do nothing, Luke has taken positive steps to bring natural gas to Fairbanks by developing a gas distribution plan and his proposal for a municipal gas utility.

Fairbanks needs Luke Hopkins’ continued leadership.

Michael Welsh

Fairbanks

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