Dave Stone wants see Juneau Assembly through recession

Posted: Thursday, September 17, 2009

As an Assembly member, Dave Stone has been an advocate for mining and the Juneau road.

Brian Wallace / Juneau Empire
Brian Wallace / Juneau Empire

What's prompting him to run for a third term on the Assembly is the budget.

At the moment things are looking good for Juneau, he said.

"Our city finances are in great shape," said Stone, who has chaired the Finance Committee for five of the last six years.

Stone is being challenged in his re-election bid for the District 1 Assembly seat by Karen Lawfer.

Stone said he's proud of what's been accomplished, including a $10 million rainy day fund and a property tax rate that's gone down during his service on the Assembly, though he said the credit belongs to the full Assembly, once-and-future manager Rod Swope and finance director Craig Duncan.

"I could have signed off and said, 'Everything's great,'" Stone said.

Instead, he's running for re-election in the face of a recession.

"We've got cruise ships repositioning, and the fees they pay are important to Docks and Harbors," he said. Passenger and crew spending also boosts sales tax revenue.

"Looking forward, things don't look so good," Stone said.

To Stone, that felt like an obligation to see the job through.

"Since you've planned for this potential, shouldn't you be involved in dealing with it?" Stone said he asked himself. Assembly members are limited to three consecutive terms.

Stone said other accomplishments on the Assembly are also works in progress.

A lack of affordable housing has long plagued the city, but Stone said some of the actions taken by the city are working to address that.

"There is no magic wand," he said, but the Assembly has passed a cottage housing ordinance, added sewer lines to support infill development and increased density.

"I think we've done an awful lot," Stone said.

Serving on the Assembly has been a learning experience, Stone said, with many issues having more to them than he originally thought.

"There isn't a lot of black and white, there's a lot of gray," he said.

While municipal elections in Juneau are non-partisan, Republican Stone carried the city's most Republican precincts handily in 2006, losing only a few liberal downtown and Douglas precincts on the way to a 58.6 percent to 41.4 percent victory over challenger Mark Stopha.

In Stone's first election in 2006, he was unopposed.

Stone's campaign contribution history is mostly to Republicans, including $250 to the Palin/Parnell campaign in 2006.

In some of the Assembly's most contentious issues over the years, Stone voted against fluoride in the city water and against a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants.

While he currently works for the state, Stone may be best known locally for his involvement with Alaska Electric Light & Power as lands manager, and his knowledge and support of the local mining industry.

Stone said he has about $5,000 in campaign funds left from previous races, but doesn't know how much he will spend.

"I'm not sure how much the advertising and the signs work in Juneau," he said.

Stone's opponent, Lawfer, said she expects to raise and spend so little that she will not have to file campaign disclosure information with the state.

Stone said the election will likely be on what people think of his six years on the Assembly, and whether they think he should continue to serve for three more years.

"There's a tremendous of time and coming up to speed, but that's not to say we shouldn't have some new blood," he said.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.

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