Length of residency: Alaska, 39 years; Juneau, 24 years
Education: Masters of Natural Resource Management, Yale School of forestry and environmental studies; Bachelors in biology, Drake University.
Occupation: Retired from State of Alaska; writer
Family: My husband, Bill Hanson, and I have two adult children, Erin and Rion. Both live in Juneau.
Community Service: I currently serve on the CBJ Assembly, volunteer for Juneau Jazz and Classics and serve as a columnist for the Juneau Empire. Prior volunteer service included Hospice, Juneau Commission on Sustainability, and Site Coordinator for the Community in Schools program at Dzantik’I Heeni Middle School.
Other Experience: Assembly member, Ketchikan Borough Assembly. Over 22 years of professional experience in fisheries, coastal, and energy policy including executive director of United Fishermen of Alaska and Southeast Alaska Seiners. Business experience includes seafood marketing and processing as well as owning and operating a B&B.
What steps can the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly take to ensure equal pay for equal work in the private sector in Juneau?
As one of eight Assembly members who just voted for the city’s equal rights ordinance, we took the most important step to ensure equal pay for equal work. The ordinance now makes it unlawful “to discriminate against any individual with respect to compensation or the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of race, color, age, religion, sex, familial status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or national origin.” Next comes public outreach and education to inform and assist the private sector about this ordinance.
Would you be in favor of developing a comprehensive public health plan for the CBJ? What components of the public’s health should be included? If you would not support such a plan please explain why.
In these fiscally constrained times where the CBJ is facing a $4.8 million hole, I am not in favor of developing a comprehensive health plan for the city. My preference is to: 1) monitor the State’s experience with Medicaid expansion, and 2) protect the city’s ongoing health initiatives. We currently provide funding support for the Juneau Alliance for Mental Health and Rainforest Recovery. Developing a comprehensive health plan would limit the city’s ability to financially support these essential programs. Furthermore, we are discussing our community’s heroin addiction problem. I anticipate that the city will be asked to help in some way. Helping on the addiction problem and maintaining a quality community hospital are my highest health priorities.
What can be done to improve the bus and pedestrian traffic in the downtown area during the tourist season?
As the new cruise ship dock (16B) comes into completion, traffic patterns will likely change and intensify. In anticipation of this, I pushed to dedicate some marine passenger fees toward studying a downtown circulator and improving way-finding signage. This study is now on hold as a private operator is interested in doing a trial run of a downtown circulator next summer. I like the idea of letting a private operator pave the way rather than a study. Once the second phase of the 16B dock is completed, we will need to monitor the pedestrian traffic flow and be ready to add new way-finding signage, maps, cross walks and crossing guards to better direct flow downtown and to the SLAM.
If you had to rank spending priorities for the CBJ, what would be your top two items requiring adequate funding other that public safety? Explain your choices.
My top two spending priorities would be sound infrastructure and fully funding education. Essential infrastructure — roads, sewer, water, airport — are the foundation upon which our economy functions. If we don’t address deferred maintenance today, the costs and consequences will only increase in the future. In some ways schools serve as that essential infrastructure for our community’s future. Our school district has faced repeated cuts, and it shows up in crowded classrooms. Funding education to the cap (a reference to maximum amount of local contribution allowed under state law) has been a budgetary priority of mine. Additionally, I’ve supported funding measures such as after school activities, which fall outside the cap. My firm support for education will continue if I’m re-elected.
What measures would you suggest to improve gun safety in the CBJ?
As part of a hunting family, gun safety matters to me, but more importantly saving lives is vital. State law forbids us from having any gun law more restrictive than the state’s, but Juneau citizens let their creativity shine. The Juneau School District partners with Fish & Game volunteers, 4-H, the Cooperative Extension, the Forest Service and others to teach firearm safety to every public school sixth grader. No other city in Alaska does that, and it’s thanks to Juneau volunteers. CBJ also has a role, helping to fund suicide prevention through mental health nonprofits. Helping those who might harm themselves or others is an essential piece of reducing gun deaths. I helped protect that funding even as we cut the city budget elsewhere.
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?
When most households with incomes below $50,000 are paying more than 30 percent of their income for housing, it’s clear we have a living wage problem. Alaskans recently voted in large numbers to raise the Alaska minimum wage to $8.75 in 2015 and to $9.95 for 2016. Thanks to those citizens that got this on the ballot, we’re moving in the right direction, but according to the MIT Living Wage Calculator, we’re still about $1.50 short of ensuring a living wage. For several reasons, minimum wage is best set by federal or state standards. This leaves CBJ to focus on measures like expanding affordable housing to help make the monthly check go further toward other needs.
What progress has been made on increasing the availability of affordable housing and what still needs to be done?
The Assembly has been very active on housing. For example, along areas where water and sewer have been extended we’ve increased the density to allow for over 30,000 more housing units. We passed a subdivision property tax abatement program to provide incentive for private developers to subdivide more land. We provided financial support for the Senior Housing Demand Study, the Housing First project and have hired a housing officer. In addition to supporting these efforts, I pushed to get the accessory apartment grant program funded. As chair of the Lands Committee, I oversaw the release of city land for 30 more multi-family units and six starter homes. We still need to fill the gap for workforce housing, downtown housing and create opportunities for first time home buyers.