Areawide Assembly seat race heats up

Kate Troll and Bill Peters are candidates for the areawide Assembly seat.

In just 11 days a victor will emerge from the only contested race in Juneau’s 2013 municipal election.

The race pits long-time Juneau residents Kate Troll and Bill Peters against each other. Troll has professional experience in seafood, tourism and local government.

“Those are the three economic engines driving Juneau, and I have experience in all three,” said Troll, who once owned a bed and breakfast and worked as a fisheries development specialist for the Department of Commerce in Juneau. She previously served on the Ketchikan Borough Assembly.

Two of the hot-topic issues in some Juneau circles — affordable housing and jobs — are part of Troll’s main campaign platform, and she said she has ideas to make progress in both areas.

To make housing more affordable, Troll advocates for tax incentives for Juneauites willing to offer certain types of affordable housing, such as mother-in-law-style apartments and triplexes, she said at the League of Women Voters candidate forum last week.

Encouraging multi-use zoning in downtown that would allow apartments above shops is another priority for the Assembly hopeful.

She added that Juneau’s Ted Stevens Research Center is the prime location for about 100 jobs currently based in Seattle, so efforts to get those jobs moved would be one of her top job-creating priorities.

Another one of Troll’s job-creating ideas is expanding support-related jobs, like engine repair for the cruise ships and commercial fishing vessels that frequently dock in Juneau. Better efforts should be made to market Juneau for job-seekers, she added.

“We have vibrant arts, a great university and wonderful outdoors,” Troll said. “The quality of life here is great.”

Her opponent is Bill Peters, a 29-year veteran in the banking industry with a hope to help “balance the city’s checkbook,” he said recently.

Peters served on the Juneau School Board from 2004 to 2007, and has a long record of community involvement in Juneau.

Those experiences include being involved in the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program for 15 years, serving on Juneau Diocese Finance Council and working with the Juneau Chamber of Commerce.

The decision to run for the open Assembly seat this year was an easy one for Peters, he said.

“I’ve had my eyes on the Assembly for 10 years,” Peters said. “I’ve always wanted to serve the city — I’m a public servant.”

Both candidates list housing and the economy amongst their top priorities, but their means of achieving results differ greatly.

Peters plans to aid the housing market primarily by looking at ways to increase land access for developers and considering which subdivision regulations are necessary and which are not. Costs with sidewalks, for instance, are often passed to home-buyers, which increases the costs of homes in Juneau when younger professionals can least afford it, Peters said.

His efforts to improve the job market and fully fund education will center on collaboration with local agencies and people who have good ideas about improving those areas, he said.

As an Assembly member, Peters said he would focus primarily on “learning about what’s important,” and then using his “solution-based” thinking to determine the best ways to address issues Juneauites care about the most.

Juneau’s 2013 municipal elections are Oct. 1.

Contact reporter Matt Woolbright at 523-2243 or at matthew.woolbright@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/reportermatt.

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