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Empire Endorsements for the Oct. 2 Municipal Election

Posted: September 25, 2012 - 11:00pm

The great thing about our municipal races is that in no race is there a terrible candidate. All who are running are seeking thankless jobs. In these tough times the winners will be called upon to make unpopular decisions. All volunteered to stand up to the highest scrutiny and to work for Juneau’s best interests.

With that disclaimer, the Juneau Empire’s Editorial Board feels it is picking the “best of the best” in making the endorsements below:

Borough Mayor: Merrill Sanford

Merrill Sanford is a familiar face around town, and brings with him the wisdom earned through tough experiences. While he has taken sides on issues which are unpopular to some, he does follow his passion for civic duty and seeks to be an instrument of progress and change.

We feel his opponent has valuable skills and experience as well, but the job of mayor calls for a leader, not a facilitator who would be learning a lot about the nuts and bolts of running the city and borough “on-the-job.” For that reason we look forward to her future political endeavors, but endorse former Assembly member and former deputy mayor Merrill Sanford for Borough Mayor.

Assembly District 1: Paul Nowlin

There’s something intriguing about candidate Paul Nowlin. He has answers to the questions posed by voters and he is operating apparently without the “caution” filters some candidates employ, telling the world on his website about a youthful run-in with the law. His opponent is also running a clean and honest, issue-focused campaign. We just like the way Nowlin comes down on most issues, and we look forward to seeing him put his open-minded approaches to problem solving to work in the Borough Assembly.

Paul Nowlin for District 1 Assembly.

Assembly District 2: Jerry

Nankervis

Just because Jerry Nankervis is running unopposed doesn’t mean voters should skip the ballot line. This retired public servant is volunteering for a tough job, and needs to know people voted for him — and expect him to come through. Cast your vote, and later on make sure to let him know how he’s doing.

Jerry Nankervis for District 2 Assembly.

Juneau School District Board of Education

There are three seats and five candidates, all of them good people. Here are our picks:

Andrea “Andi” Story

School board incumbent and board Vice President Andi Story has done a fantastic job on the board, and her dedication to rooting out facts and participating in lengthy workshops and budget sessions shines through. She is a leader on the board and deserves a fourth term.

Phyllis Carlson

Incumbent Phyllis Carlson is also a three-term and dedicated board member and brings with her knowledge of how the state operates. She is a program administrator in the state’s education department.

Destiny Sargeant

Destiny Sargeant was the second to jump into the school board race. She served on the board from 2007 to 2010, and we feel her experience will come in handy.

Ballot Measures:

No on 1 — Reject the bond

Yes on 2 — Support the flawed sales tax

Over the past eight years, voters have approved $131.6 million dollars in GO bonds that helped to build Thunder Mountain High School and the Dimond Aquatic Center, and also facilitated renovations at Dzantik’i Heenie Middle School, Gastineau Elementary, Auke Bay Elementary and Adair Kennedy Field. Additionally, in October 2007, the 1 percent sales tax was directed to a variety of needed capital improvement projects for the city (a shop for Public Works, area wide sewer infrastructure, airport renovations, harbor facilities and deferred maintenance on CBJ buildings).

Sound familiar?

The FY14 budget calls for an increase of 3.22 percent in the mill levy to cover CBJ operations and for debt service needed to fund voter-approved general obligation debt. Regardless of whether or not the 1 Percent Sales Tax renewal is approved or the bond levy, our property taxes are going to go up in order to cover the increasing cost of city operations and to cover our outstanding debt. With a CBJ budget of $254 million, can we not find a way to allocate $8.2 million toward maintenance costs without adding to the City’s reliance on a temporary means of revenue, and should we be spending $4.7 million on a new library that we have to borrow money to maintain?

Here’s but one example of the dilemma: There are items in both the sales tax renewal and the bond measure that we would support, but not enough that we feel we should go deeper into debt. The way the projects were split between the sales tax and the bond makes it impossible to choose without sacrificing one high-priority project over another. For example, we strongly believe Centennial Hall should be renovated, but we don’t support a new library at this time nor do we support using the funds for deferred maintenance. If we vote down the sales tax renewal — to avoid building a new facility that CBJ has already demonstrated it cannot maintain — then we’re left with supporting Centennial Hall via the bond. In that case we go deeper into debt.

The U.S. has nearly $17 trillion in debt and another $84 trillion in unfunded liabilities. At some point soon, the citizens of this nation are going to be called upon to begin the unpleasant task of paying down this overwhelming and stifling debt. Regardless of how the politics plays out... each of us will be called upon to pay the piper for our government’s excesses. Business has been slow to invest in the future due largely to the uncertainty that exists. Our governmental bodies should take heed. Paying down debt should be our primary consideration today, not adding more.

Dropping the library and the deferred maintenance costs out of Prop 2 and adding in the Eaglecrest learning Center and Lodge Renovation, the Airport Terminal Renovation and the Capital Transit Improvements from the bond measure would have made for a much more palatable situation. We believe voting no on both propositions is shortsighted.

We therefore say no to Proposition 1 which adds more debt.

We feel somewhat forced into accepting Proposition 2. In lending our support we feel we have to take the bitter along with the sweet.

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