Candidate profile: Beth Weldon (Assembly D2)

Beth Weldon

Length of residency: Lifelong Juneauite (51 years)

Education: JDHS; University of Washington, BS in fisheries

Occupation: Retired Division Chief with Capital City Fire/Rescue; owner of Glacier Auto Parts with my husband

Family: Husband Greg, sons Cody and Tyler, dog Chloe

Community Service: Aquatics Board member, JDHS Site Council, Glacier Valley Rotary member and incoming club president. Current and former activity with Alaska State Firefighters Association Board, Juneau Ski Club Board, volunteer for JDHS Wrestling, Glacier Swim Club and JDHS Track and Field.

Other experience: Other background includes CBJ Supervisor Academy; Aurora Fire Officer Development Program, National Fire Academy Leadership II; former Instructor in EMS, Fire Service, Marine Ship Board Firefighting, Aircraft Rescue Firefighting, Emergency Medical Dispatch; owner/operator F/V Seven C’s

What steps can the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly take to ensure equal pay for equal work in the private sector in Juneau?

Equal pay for equal work in the private sector is not something under the CBJ’s authority. The only influence the CBJ should have is to be a leader demonstrating this principle by providing equal pay for equal work with their employees. In my career with the CBJ in the fire department, I experienced at least equal pay alongside my male counterparts.

Would you be in favor of developing a comprehensive public health plan for CBJ? What components of the public’s health should be included? If you would not support such a plan, please explain why.

Instituting a comprehensive health plan for CBJ when faced with a $4.8 million deficit would be an inappropriate use of funding and staff resources. We shouldn’t consider starting a program that would be duplicating efforts of other programs already in effect such as the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and private health plans. Instead we might consider looking at some type of incentive to support businesses that do offer health plans to their employees.

What can be done to improve the bus and pedestrian traffic in the downtown area during the tourist season?

Bus and pedestrian traffic is the main reason many locals don’t venture downtown in the summer months. However, all this traffic demonstrates the vitality of our tourist industry. With the current cruise ship docking system, we need to look at alternative transportation methods downtown. Possible alternatives could be a shared car system, Uber cars, more pedi-cabs, shared bicycles, or a bus/trolley that does short loops. The Downtown Business Association has hired a consultant from Main Street USA to address this and other issues. I will be excited to see what comes out of this study and look forward to productive partnerships between the city and other organizations to execute its recommendations.

If you had to rank spending priorities for the CBJ, what would be your top two items requiring adequate funding other than public safety? Explain your choices.

I’m a strong advocate for supporting jobs in our community. Therefore, my first priority is funding education; kids are our future and anything we can do to further them in the world can only benefit us. In order for them to attend college, enter a trade and return to work in Juneau, they need to start with a solid education foundation. My second priority is our city infrastructure — sewer, water and streets. One of the ways our city can support our business community is with a good infrastructure in which they can operate. Having a reliable water and sewer system and well maintained and paved roads is essential to keeping the businesses we have and encouraging new business ventures.

What measures would you suggest to improve gun safety in the CBJ?

Learning how to properly handle a firearm is essential to avoid accidental discharge and minimize the risk of unintentional death, injury and damage caused by improper storage or handling of a firearm. Firearm education certainly would have helped avoid the incident that happened with the school bus on Riverside Drive. The firearm course taught at Floyd Dryden Middle School and Dzantik’I Heeni Middle School was a great program for my kids and should be duplicated for all middle school kids.

What do you consider to be a living minimum wage in the Juneau area? What measures could the CBJ take to raise the minimum wage?

Currently the state minimum wage is $9.75 an hour which, for a 40 hour week job, is roughly $1,700 a month. Whether that is a livable wage depends upon a person’s living habits. The CBJ shouldn’t mandate a minimum wage but rather let the employee market dictate the wages in Juneau. If employers want to attract qualified workers, they will have to offer higher wages than the minimum. If an employer can’t fill a position at the wage being offered, then they will have to raise the wage and/or benefits to attract employees. An interesting study would be to poll the local businesses and see how many offer starting positions higher than the minimum wage.

What progress has been made on increasing the availability of affordable housing and what still needs to be done?

Recently, CBJ opened up and/or rezoned land for housing such as the housing subdivision off Sherwood Lane and the new senior housing development off Vintage Park. The Pederson Hill development has caused controversy and, although I don’t agree with all the recommendations, I applaud CBJ for considering something different. In order to encourage more housing, we need to consider opening up additional lands for development. I commend CBJ for implementing a downpayment assistance program for families purchasing mobile homes in an effort to make home ownership more affordable. We need to encourage multi-dwelling buildings with parking options downtown. Additionally, after talking to builders in the community, I believe simplification of the building permit process still needs work.

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