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Assembly Election: Johnson hopes to preserve 'business balance'

Posted: Tuesday, September 18, 2001

With 26 years of experience in real estate, Jeannie Johnson says she has learned to listen to all sides. And she hopes to bring her skills as a negotiator and a mediator to the District 1 Assembly seat being vacated by Cathy Munoz.

"I'm concerned about keeping the business balance on the Assembly and I think I have the experience to do that," she said.

The city and the Assembly can offer support by maintaining a business-friendly attitude, she said.

Johnson moved to Juneau six years ago after spending 20 years in the real estate business in Anchorage. She has been a private pilot for 16 years and flies a Cessna 172.

Jeannie Johnson

Age: 54

How long in Juneau: Six years.

Family in Juneau: Husband, Wendell Wassmann. They have six children who live in Anchorage and the Fairbanks area.

Occupation: Real estate broker with J. Johnson Co. Properties.

Education: Coeur dAlene High School, Idaho.

Public offices held: Juneau Airport Board member, commissioner on the Alaska Real Estate Commission, past president of the Citizens Advisory Educational Concerns Committee in the Anchorage School District.

Hobbies: A private pilot for the past 16 years, she has flown all over the state.

Johnson said she agrees with Mayor Sally Smith's request to the governor to complete an environmental impact statement on Juneau access, including a road to Skagway. Juneau's neighbors to the north don't seem to understand why Juneau doesn't have or perhaps want a road, she said.

"I really would like to see more scientific information before I decide if a road is a good idea or not. I lean toward a road. That doesn't mean I don't have the right to change my mind," she said.

Johnson said she looks forward to lobbying to keep the capital in Juneau, and said Juneau needs to project an image of caring.

"I think we need to work hard to strengthen that coalition with our Southeast neighbors and also to work in the rest of the state. I grew up in Anchorage, and know people throughout the state that I've already started lobbying on this issue. It's just vital to keep the Legislature and the capital here," she said.

Johnson said her skills as a negotiator and mediator will be particularly useful in discussions about tourism in Juneau. She urged people to participate in discussions about the city's long-range tourism plan.

"Tourism is very important to this city and there again, I think we really need to find a balance," she said. "I don't think either side is going to get exactly what they want. We really need to find something people can live with."

Johnson said she thinks Juneau's flightseeing operators are trying hard to address noise. In terms of regulating the industry, legality is the problem, she said.

"I think there are some things that can be done. I guess I'd have to say that when you get into regulating commerce by limiting flights, I'd have to look at the plan before I said what I thought about it."

As a member of the Juneau Airport Board for the past four years, Johnson has worked with the city and its departments on budgets and capital improvement projects, she said. She said she would step down from the airport board if elected to the Assembly.

Johnson said she favors an expansion of the runway safety area at the airport for planes that undershoot or overshoot the airstrip. A possible option to shorten the runway would be a step backward, she said. At this point, an environmental impact statement will determine what changes might be needed, she said.

"When we did the runway resurfacing probably two or three years ago, one of the stipulations was that we brought our airport into compliance and that included having a runway safety area that's bigger than we have now," she said. "Unfortunately, because we have an airport that sits in the middle of a wetlands, we're trying to figure out how to expand and make the least impact on the environment yet keep the safety of our airport at what it needs to be and what regulation says it should be."

Communication and public awareness are needed as Juneau grapples with bears in the community, Johnson said. The city's bear committee is doing a good job, she said.

"We need to continue with our bear-proof garbage containers and take it through to Dumpsters and Dumpster lids. I think we could do a little more public education with fliers and garbage bills," she said.

Johnson said she'll vote in favor of a proposition that would separate funding authorization for Juneau-Douglas High School renovations and a new high school in the Mendenhall Valley.

"I think it's really important that we lobby the Legislature to get the money for the valley high school. It's just as imperative that the school we have now has the renovation done to it that's needed," she said.

Joanna Markell can be reached at joannam@juneauempire.com.



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