My Turn: Keep the capital, stop the creep

Posted: Friday, August 17, 2001

Are you happy with the way our elected officials are running this city? Are you concerned that we have lost our Southeast friends? Are you the least bit irritated that we live under the constant threat (40 years) of losing the capital? If you're like me, you're astonished and angry with our leadership and their actions.

We as a community have allowed our assembly body to be infested with special interest attitudes which routinely stomp out any economic development and shun local business. They have continually allowed horns and pitchforks to be placed on business, small and large. The business community raises children here, worships here, enjoys outdoor activities here, contributes to and supports local charities and events, and all the while is under continuous assault from Assembly members like Mark Wheeler and Frankie Pillifant. Mr. Wheeler seems to think that any person or business that is successful should bear the brunt of every hardship in town, as evidenced by his voting record. In fact local business already bears most of that burden through taxation, donations, etc. Ms. Pillifant obviously has an agenda all her own as well. The mere mention of the word development seems to burn her skin like acid, which can be witnessed at any Assembly meeting where her antics and face-making are displayed anytime she disagrees with someone.

These are astonishingly rude and childish displays at a public meeting that should be a distinguished event. Mr. Wheeler and Ms. Pillifant have already driven a huge wedge between Juneau and the rest of Southeast Alaska with their personal platforms. If allowed to continue, their views will serve as just the impetus needed to facilitate the relocation of the capital.

The facts are Mr. Wheeler and Ms. Pillifant's terms are not up and we don't have an opportunity to vote them out. What we can do is vote in people who will look at the issues for the good of all of Juneau's residents, not to further their personal agendas.

Most people living in Juneau will agree that we live in one of the finest places in the world and it is going to take every resident's cooperation to maintain our quality of life. Our Assembly needs to take a pro-business stance. Additionally, they must send a clear message to the rest of our state that Juneau is doing everything needed to keep the Capital here in Juneau where it belongs. Just imagine Southeast Alaska without the government jobs! Can you? If you work for the state and a capital move doesn't affect your job status, are you comfortable in the fact that you will be doing the same job but not in Juneau?

The future of your home equity, the prospects for your children and grandchildren, who is stuck with the tab for the local budget and other issues all hinge on what we do in this coming election. The opportunity to take back this town and make our Assembly and city officials accountable is here.

I write this letter knowing full well the risk of standing up and being counted in this intimate community. However, the cost to me personally is far outweighed by the potential cost to Juneau as a whole of not taking control back of our community. If I believed the bulk of the population was being properly represented I wouldn't be responding at this time. The current Assembly clearly misses the mark on issues vital to the long-term health of Juneau. I love this splendorous place we all call home and we must pull together to protect our unique way of life - that of boundless opportunity for our diverse populace. Let's not allow a few self-serving individuals to destroy the bright future Juneau can enjoy. Keep the capital. Stop the creep!

Rob Skinner is a local businessman, family man, outdoor enthusiast and member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

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