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Rights, responsibilities and a Borough Assembly that works together

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A couple of days ago I received a glossy mailer urging me to vote for a “Conservative FNSB Assembly.” I shredded it but not before noticing that the top contributor to this effort lives in Illinois. The others were in Anchorage. I don’t need anyone from Illinois or Anchorage telling me how to vote, and you shouldn’t either. We don’t need partisanship in our Assembly (or our school board or city), we need people who can actually do the work. There are plenty of ways to familiarize ourselves with candidates. We can listen carefully to both school board and Borough Assembly meetings to “meet” incumbents, and read letters in support of the different candidates as well as what the candidates say about themselves. We can attend the candidate forums.

We might consider how people have behaved recently in response to our Covid-19 public health emergency. If a candidate wants to place “individual rights” before the health of the community then they have lost my vote regardless of conservative or liberal credentials. There may be a place for those sentiments but not in our Assembly (or school board). If you are unclear about the issue of rights, please read Dick Bishop’s excellent letter from Sept. 7 where he reminded us that “Your right to swing your fist ends just short of my nose!” Mr. Bishop explains it clearly in language we can all understand.

What do we need our Assembly members to do? I know what I don’t want. I am on the conservative side of moderate but the views of some of the candidates being presented as “conservative” are definitely not in line with mine. I do not want a conservative or a liberal Borough Assembly, I want a non-partisan moderate one that actually gets the work done. I don’t want to listen to Assembly members ranting on about “God given rights” to do this or that (again please refer to Mr. Bishop’s letter about rights) and I don’t want to hear them obstructing legitimate business applications just because they do not like the nature of the business. I don’t want anyone who subscribes to crazy conspiracy theories. The borough website explains what kind of governing the borough does: if you don’t like that kind of work, don’t run.

Here are six simple requirements for a candidate:

• Does the candidate understand how democracy actually works and that rights come with responsibilities?

• Do they understand what the rule of law is and can they work within that?

• Do they understand what the work of the Assembly (or school board) actually requires?

• Can they leave their political ideologies at home and conduct the actual business at hand?

• Can they treat all borough residents with equal respect?

• What kind of local support do they have?

So, who meets these criteria …

I am already familiar with David Guttenberg and am confident he meets them. I researched his opponent but am not satisfied that he would do the same. Kristan Kelly and Savannah Fletcher both took the time to come and meet with me in person which I appreciated as I am too disabled to go to meet and greets. Both of them met all of my criteria and then some. We talked about issues that concern me such as affordable housing, zoning enforcement and how the transport of ore from the Tetlin mine to Fort Knox will impact the borough. They both satisfied any concerns I had about them being “radical lefties” or anti-business development … they certainly are not. Both of them understand what the work of the Assembly really is. And neither one is being supported by mailings paid for from out of state monies.

For the school board I definitely want to retain Erin Morotti and Chrya Sanderson because they clearly support equity and safety for our students and do not bring political baggage with them.

For the Csty, services are important. I have been happy with Shoshana Kun and June Rogers and will be voting to keep them.

So, if you want moderate candidates who understand what the job requires, please join this moderate conservative in voting for Kristan Kelly, Savannah Fletcher, David Guttenberg, Shoshana Kun, June Rogers, Erin Morotti and Chrya Sanderson. They have local support (no flyers with Illinois contributors) and the experience we need. They do not present themselves in a partisan manner, and they will leave party preferences at home. And I think they all understand Mr. Bishop’s advice about rights and responsibilities.

Jenny Bell-Jones is chair emeritus of the Department of Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. This work represents her opinion and not that of the department.

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