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Extraordinary public service: Thank you Mayor Botelho

Posted: October 7, 2012 - 12:03am

For the last nine years the running of local government has been under the steady rudder of Mayor Bruce Botelho, presiding as Mayor from 2003 to 2012. During three consecutive terms (2003-2012) Bruce participated in at least 277 meetings (96 percent attendance rate). This does not include the 100 plus meetings he may have attended for the Alaska Municipal League Board of Directors, Juneau Economic Development Council, Tongass Futures Roundtable, UAS Campus Council, The Alaska Rainforest Center and the Juneau World Affairs Council. This does not even account for being Mayor from 1988 to 1991 or for serving three years on the Assembly in the early 80’s. This level of dedicated service is commendable all on its own but adds in the way he led as noted in the quotes below and it becomes apparent that Mayor Bruce Botelho is one of a kind.

Then there is more. Mayor Botelho has also been a leader in state government as the Deputy Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Revenue from 1984 to 1986 and more importantly as the Attorney General from 1994 to 2002, under Governor Wally Hickel and Governor Tony Knowles. He was also president of the Alaska Conference of Mayors.

As Mayor Botelho takes a break from public life, I thought it would be insightful to hear from those who have worked alongside Bruce…those who know him well.

Former Assembly Member David Stone — Bruce often worked with a divided Assembly on a lot of tough issues. Through his vision, he always managed to bring the Assembly to some form of workable resolution, regardless of whether or not he was on the winning side. His knowledge of the Juneau Charter, the Alaska Constitution, Alaska Statutes and relevant cases proved extremely valuable. However, what I valued most was his compassion for those he served and those he served with. He was a full time mayor that was always there for you.

Representative Beth Kerttula — It is hard to describe the contribution Bruce has made to Juneau and all of Alaska. Intelligent, thoughtful, compassionate, strategic, more committed than anyone else could imagine — these things are all true. But, I think the thing that really sets Bruce apart is his vision — and he gets that not only from having grown up here, but from being a true student of our history. There will be many other good public servants and mayors — but Bruce is truly irreplaceable.

Former Mayor of Juneau and Lt. Governor Fran Ulmer — He was always well prepared, and willing to listen to the facts and other people’s opinions before deciding on his own. He is a clear thinker who not only asks the crucial questions to get a better understanding of the problem, but also provides constructive, creative solutions. I was always impressed by the fact that he could work hard all day at the important jobs he held, and still have time for his family, community and folk dancing. The State of Alaska and Juneau residents are so fortunate that Bruce chose public service, and dedicated his professional career to making Juneau a great Capital City.

Former City Manager Kevin Ritchey — I have worked with Bruce for nearly 30 years as a soccer player, Assembly Member, Mayor, member of the Alaska Municipal League Board of Directors, Alaska Conference of Mayors member, Attorney General, and member of the JEDC Board. My impression of Bruce is that of a model “Renaissance Man” who is an expert at many pursuits. But most important, more than anyone else I know, Bruce is always ready to help someone or bring people together to solve a problem.

UAS Chancellor John Pugh — Mayor Botelho has been a strong supporter of the University of Alaska Southeast and has advocated for improved facilities as well as additional programs that respond to the economic needs of the Southeast Region. Mayor Botelho has been a visionary in realizing how important research is to the future of the region. He supported the NOAA National Marine Science Laboratory and the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences Laboratory at Lena Point. He has tirelessly advocated for the US Forest Sciences Laboratory that is under construction. He also was a co-founder of the Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center which is in its third year of operation.

Alaska Municipal League Executive Director Kathie Wasserman — When we have an important issue, the 26 members of my board all discuss it, sometimes ad nauseous. After everyone gets two turns to talk, Bruce simply states the crux of the issue and a summary of what he sees as the solution. He is sensible and totally unflappable!! He will be truly missed.

Senator Dennis Egan — From his dedication to Alaska under two Governors as the State’s Attorney General, to his untiring dedication to the citizens of our Borough, his focus has always been: Is it right for Alaska and for our community? He’s one of the few people I’ve known that has the knack to bring folks with differing views together for an ultimate and positive solution.

On behalf of these individuals and the thousands of residents that have benefitted from your 15 years of public service to Juneau, please accept our heartfelt thank you. Not only have you set the all time record for public meetings but you have immeasurably enriched our community.

• Troll is a long-time Alaskan with more than 22 years of experience in fisheries, coastal policy and energy policy. She resides in Douglas.

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