Shoshana Kun, 43, is running for re-election for Fairbanks City Council Seat A.
A long-time Alaskan and an advocate for people suffering from substance abuse, Kun was born in Montana and has lived in such places as Argentina, Chile, Maryland and Idaho. She moved to Alaska in 1999 and has lived in Fairbanks since 2000, graduating from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, raising two daughters and opening her business in Fairbanks.
“I really felt that it was a great place to raise a family,” she said about Fairbanks. “ And you can’t beat the wilderness — the outdoor activities are bountiful. I really fell in love with Fairbanks.”
After receiving an Associate’s Degree in human services and a Bachelor’s in sociology, Kun worked in substance abuse and behavioral health counseling, helping at-risk people with low or no income. With Covid, her business stalled, but she still found a way to keep herself employed.
“That’s how I ended up delivering food,” she said. “It’s an essential job, and I can get paid.”
Kun has 20 years of volunteering experience in organizations ranging from Early Head Start to the League of Women Voters. After serving one term on the City Council, Kun said she learned that the city needs the Crisis Now response team, fair union contracts and more people in the police department.
“I do believe in longevity bonuses,” she said about the ways for the city to hire and keep more people. “The cost of retaining people is less than retraining new people. Our Public Works and firefighters work so hard, so they definitely deserve a bonus.”
Kun said that one of her main accomplishments during the first term is bringing forward on-site consumption for cannabis in Fairbanks.
“It’s good for businesses, it’s good for people who might want to consume cannabis and don’t have a place to do it,” she said. “It’s also great for visitors in our town.”
As a councilor, Kun has been reviewing the city code, looking for outdated ordinances. For example, she brought to the council’s attention that the city required residents to register bikes. Thanks to Kun, the city repealed the rule, allowing residents to bike without registration.
“Anytime you can change the ordinance and move it forward, it’s a big accomplishment,” she said.
If elected for the second term, Kun plans to continue making the budget and administration more transparent, as well as bringing unity to the community.
“Voters should pick me because I’m a more progressive candidate. I am ready to move our little city a little bit forward through very gentle revision of code and making sure people have a vibrant place to live,” she said. “I believe that voting for me is voting for fair labor negotiations between firefighters and police and public works, and the city and our citizens.”
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?
It is important to offer extended family leave and funeral leave. It is critical to keep the employees we have while also continuing looking for qualified applicants. Hiring bonuses help initially and are intended to keep the worker in our city. The city should promote a vibrant place to work and live, which would bring recruits who may want to relocate to our city and work with our city departments.
2. The City Council has discussed several options regarding the 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?
There are many irons in the fire regarding Polaris. The city has placed this on the infrastructure requests and has conversations with senators and representatives. The fastest solution is to continue to work with the Polaris Working Group. Once it is removed, I would enjoy seeing what the community feels should be there. I would like to see more housing for Seniors, a small shopping area or a convention center.
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?
We are very limited on where we can get extra revenue due to the tax caps. However, we have been operating under a balanced and transparent budget during my time on council. The city has divested funds to grow funds and that is one way that the city can generate revenue. Through smart investments, we will gain more revenue.
4. One of the ways a city grows is by bringing in new businesses. How would you encourage new businesses to come to Fairbanks?
New business is already coming in — we see the arrival of two Arbys and a Sonic. Fairbanks is a blooming town, and if we have plowed streets and sidewalks, garbage pickup, staffed police, dispatch and a fire department, this makes Fairbanks attractive to folks looking to start new businesses. Our police department is growing with lateral hires from other areas who bring their families to our Golden Heart city.
5. Is there anything you would like to see implemented — ordinances, programs, initiatives, etc — if you are elected?
I would like to continue to revise the code to make our city a more equal place to live and work. There are several ordinances that affect the downtown area and should apply city-wide. I am also excited to hear more about our Crisis Now team as they roll out their program. I hope to be part of the initiative to petition to have the Polaris dismantled and hauled away.
6. What makes you qualified to hold this office?
My time on the council brings three years and I have been on various boards since 2003 that worked with non-profit budgets. I have raised my children in Fairbanks and attained both my degrees through UAF. My 20-plus years of living in and volunteering in Fairbanks brings a lot of knowledge to the table. I believe I can bring unity to marginalized groups in our community through more open dialogue.