Performer, advocate and former Fairbanks Arts Association director June Rogers is running for re-election for City Council Seat B.
Rogers, whose Inupiaq name is Aapulk, comes from Alaska Native ancestry and has lived in the state for most of her 77-year-long life. Right after school, she started a construction business and was taking some university classes in her free time, including courses in law, where she was the only woman.
“I never graduated from college,” she said. “However, I continued educating myself in a variety of different ways and continued being self-employed.”
Another central part in Rogers’ life has been music. She’s performed with Fairbanks Light Opera Theatre, dancing, singing, working backstage and keeping the box office records. She also started her own band, performing multiple genres from country to pop to disco.
Rogers said that music has always brought her energy and allowed to dive into a week full of meetings, paperwork and administrative duties. It also brought her together with her second husband, Bill Rogers, to whom she has been married for 39 years.
Looking to bring theater programs into the schools, Rogers started volunteering for Fairbanks Arts Association. She ended up serving as their executive director for 20 years. Later, she started working with social service groups in the community, advocating for the homeless population, people suffering from substance abuse and those reentering the community after being incarcerated.
“I’m just a Fairbanks person who gets involved,” she said.
She said that in her experience working on the council she learned that “promoting listening and community dialogue is one thing that is going to build trust and encourage people to become part of the process by coming to meetings and stating their views.”
“We could talk about the snow, and we could talk about equipment and we could talk about administrative positions, or all sorts of things — those things are always topics,” she said. “But unless you have a really really good listening system, you don’t deal with those topics effectively.”
A non-partisan candidate, Rogers was appointed to the City Council in 2016, elected in 2018 and is seeking re-election for her second term.
“I feel that the biggest accomplishment is to be able to keep your calm in times of difficult discussions, assist everyone in seeking and finding the solution that’s going to be the best overall,” she said. “Anybody who has our general population’s interests at heart should be someone that voters would choose, whether it would be me or someone else.”
1. The city of Fairbanks has been experiencing staffing shortages in various agencies, including fire, police and dispatch. What are your ideas for strengthening city hiring efforts?
City staff in all departments have been diligent in their efforts to seek solutions for the difficult circumstances, to which you refer. As a City Council member, I am supportive of their efforts and seek to provide the necessary funding that shores up their possibilities of success.
2. The City Council has discussed several options regarding demolition of the Polaris Building. What is the most viable and fastest option to get it down? What should go in the space once it is gone?
The Polaris Building has brought together more diverse opinions and solutions than any other issue of recent years. On one thing we all agree — the building must go. Demolition is not a “fast” option and needs to follow the careful recommendations City staff has outlined for a safe removal of the building.
What will fill the space — is also open to many thoughts, with several work plans on the table.
3. The city provides essential services to residents while also operating within a balanced budget and protecting the city’s permanent fund. What are your ideas for bringing in additional city revenue or changing spending?
Recognizing constituent views on tax initiatives and supporting essential services doesn’t easily allow for spending changes. However, grants and accurate fee assessments need to be continually pursued, as is the pursuit of efficiencies in all city operations.
4. One of the ways a city grows is by bringing in new businesses. How would you encourage new business to come to Fairbanks?
Encouraging others to join in any endeavor, whether friendship groups or circles of commerce, the people who are already a part of a particular realm need to demonstrate their cohesiveness and support for current businesses. The Buy Local program points to the economic success that’s enabled by supporting local businesses. Others who are surveying an area for development are more likely to want to join in that circle of success.
5. Is there anything you would like to see implemented — ordinances, programs, initiatives, etc — if you are elected?
Public safety issues are a primary concern for our community. Neighborhood watch programs, Volunteers in Policing, foot patrols and other such endeavors that inspire confidence in public safety officers of all positions — fire — police — health care — are greatly effective and need to be reenergized.
6. What makes you qualified to hold this office?
In addition to several years on the Fairbanks City Council, I’m recognized throughout the state as an advocate who’s been actively involved in public policy issues since the late 70s.
Serving on the council has been challenging, but rather than deter me from seeking re-election, I am energized to seek another term. As non-partisan, I bring a perspective of acceptance for all who come before the council with their concerns.