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At their first public forum Wednesday, five Juneau Assembly candidates answered questions ranging from domestic partner rights to relocation of the Glory Hole shelter.
All three candidates for the at-large seat attended the forum hosted by the Juneau chapter of the National Organization for Women. Joan Cahill and Jonathan Anderson were the only candidates who attended from District 1 in the downtown and Douglas areas and District 2 in the Mendenhall Valley area.
Many of the voters asked the candidates about women's issues.
At-large candidate David Summers was asked if he would support providing health benefits to city employees' domestic partner. Summers said he would vote for providing insurance to city employees' married spouses.
"The problem right now is that the state of Alaska only recognizes the marriage between a man and a woman. Supporters of domestic partner insurance need to work towards issues with the state, not the city," said Summers, president of the Juneau Chamber of Commerce.
Mara Early, another at-large candidate, said she would vote against any ordinance that allows pharmacists to refuse to refill birth control based on their personal belief.
"I would vote against prohibiting women's right to birth control," said Early, chairwoman of the Juneau Coalition for Youth.
District 2 candidate Jonathan Anderson said he would support Planned Parenthood coming to Juneau.
"I support women's right to choose," said Anderson, director of the University of Alaska Southeast's public administration master's program.
The participants also asked candidates on issues that affect the whole community.
At-large candidate Joan Cahill said she doesn't want to be called a garbage candidate but how to deal with garbage is an issue close to her heart.
"We should have a comprehensive recycling program," said Cahill, communication specialist for Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. "We should have curbside pickup so you don't have to make a special trip."
At-large candidate Bob Doll said having worked for the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities for seven years, he understands that the state won't build a second bridge across Gastineau Channel unless the city makes it a political objective.
"Juneau hasn't made a case for it and that needs to be changed," said Doll, a former director of DOT/PF's Southeast Region.
All of the candidates answered the question of whether the city should ask the Glory Hole to relocate - a suggestion that has come from some downtown businesses.
Anderson and Doll oppose relocation. Doll said the major attraction of people congregating at that area has to do with the bars across the street.
Cahill said homeless people are part of Juneau's downtown scene. "I don't think they should hide away," Cahill said. She said she would talk to Glory Hole officials before taking a position.
Early said she doesn't think this is the greatest issue facing the Assembly but she would talk to the patrons and the board of the Glory Hole before deciding.
Summers did not say whether the shelter should move. He said as a business owner on South Franklin Street, he would serve as a "bridge builder" between business owners and social service groups.
"You have the situation where you have tax revenue-based businesses and social services in the same area," Summers said. "Residents and businesses have questions whether the Glory Hole is paying their civic rent."
I-Chun Che can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.