Occupation: Retired from state government, Director of Libraries, Archives and Museums
Family: Husband, Dan Fruits
Community Service: Board member and incoming President of United Way, reading tutor at Riverbend Elementary, ESL tutor at SERRC, volunteer cook at the Glory Hole, member of League of Women Voters and past president of League of Women Voters of Alaska.
Other Experience: Director of Community Services for the Fairbanks North Star Borough responsible for Libraries, Parks and Recreation, Transit, Day Care Administration and Community Research. I also have private sector experience as a property and trust manager.
1. What is your highest priority for the CBJ to accomplish during your term in office? Explain why this is a priority and what you will do to facilitate this.
My highest priority is dealing with the housing shortage. We cannot significantly grow the community or the economy until we deal with housing. It is a high priority for the entire Assembly. We have reached out to builders, developers, bankers and others to hear their suggestions. The Assembly needs to refine and streamline current policies and look for new ways to energize the housing market. Another high priority is the transit system. I pushed for a new planning process which is currently underway. While we have a good system it hasn’t changed with the community. I will continue to advocate for improvements.
2. What should the Assembly do to increase voter registration, voter turnout, and citizen participation in local government?
Information and access are critical. Juneau has a high percentage of involvement in local government through service on boards and commissions. Assembly meetings are broadcast on KTOO. Voter registration is available at each of the public libraries. CBJ has made it easier to vote with early voting which starts two weeks before the election. In addition, voters who are traveling and not able to use absentee ballots can vote by electronic transmission. The clerk’s office will send the ballot material by email. The voter prints the ballot, has it witnessed and returns it by mail, fax or scan. The Assembly has previous authorized voting by mail. It may be time to explore this option.
3. What responsibility does the Assembly have to address the problem of drug and alcohol abuse issues in Juneau?
This issue affects the community at every level and it’s essential for CBJ to be involved on many fronts. DARE, a program in the schools, is provided by JPD. JPD has extra police on downtown patrol in addition to dealing daily with the many situations fueled by drugs and/or alcohol. The fire department and EMT’s also respond to calls related to substance abuse. Bartlett Hospital provides services to this population. CBJ supports the Rainforest Recovery Center and provides Social Service Advisory grants awarded to non-profit agencies dealing with these issues. CBJ also provides support for JAMI and those clients who may have addiction issues. A number of agencies in the community have come together to work on these problems and CBJ is a committed participant.
4. What steps should the Assembly take to strengthen local economic diversity and stabilize the local population?
Housing is at the core of everything we want to achieve. If housing is not available we cannot attract new business to the community. If young families cannot find or afford a home, they will leave. If retirees cannot afford to live here they will leave. We also need to revitalize downtown, it is important to the entire community. Downtown is the face of Juneau – to visitors, to the legislature, to anyone thinking of locating here. The Assembly is working toward completion of an economic development plan. JEDC has looked at downtown revitalization and has formed working group clusters around potential economic development areas. We need to think much more broadly about who we can attract to the community and how to do it.
5. What do you consider to be the advantages and disadvantages of reopening the AJ mine?
The stated Assembly goal is to study the issue. I think it is premature to list advantages and disadvantages because the Assembly has not yet met its goal of studying the issue. While a primary advantage would be jobs, economic activity and income for CBJ there are questions that need additional attention. How would CBJ function as both owner and regulator of the mine, what are the potential effects of the mine on downtown businesses and neighborhoods - including noise, water, and traffic? The Assembly needs to engage the community in an open and transparent process as we move forward on these issues.
6. What measures should the Assembly take to maintain the availability and safety of Juneau’s water supply?
The Assembly just passed a resolution stating that CBJ will request grant funding through DEC for the Last Chance Basin. There is diminishing production capacity from existing wells. The grant request is for two new wells and replacement of the five existing wells. The resolution stated that this request is the Borough’s highest priority for state funding for this fiscal year. In addition, CBJ needs to modernize controls and replace the standby power system. Also under review is an upgrade to Salmon Creek to be a more stable secondary system.
7. What further steps should the Assembly take to address housing issues in the Juneau area?
8. The Assembly has just passed an ordinance deferring property taxes on subdivision parcels. While minor, this will provide some relief to developers. CBJ is looking toward development of Borough land in the Petersen Hill and Switzer Creek areas. Recent zoning changes have increased density in some areas of the Borough. Community Development is reviewing policies and procedures to try to improve the permitting process. The Assembly is looking at whether some requirements for subdivisions should be relaxed. There is no single answer to this issue. I can say this is a high priority for the entire Assembly.