Tony Reiger is probably best known in Juneau as an advocate for sewer improvements and airport safety. If elected to the District 1 Assembly seat, he said he hopes to be an advocate for the community as a whole.
"What I envision is my responsibility and commitment to build a consensus and enhance a greater unification than we have right now. We desperately need that for our future. I think that if we continue to pick at one another and oversimplify situations and resort to labeling one another or disengaging one another, we're going to continue to be less effective than we'd otherwise be," he said.
Reiger, a sporting goods salesman at Rayco Sales, began teaching in the Juneau School District in 1964, also serving as an administrator and a counselor. After he retired in 1987, he moved to Washington state where he ran a small organic farm and wholesale nursery and a 105-acre livestock operation. He returned to Juneau in 1996.
How long in Juneau: 30 years
Family in Juneau: Daughter and son-in-law, Laura and Lars Gregovich. Two grandchildren.
Education: Bachelor of arts, history, political science, Hofstra University, New York; master's in counseling, San Diego State University; Ph.D. in human behavior in education, U.S. International University in San Diego.
Occupation: Salesman at Rayco Sales. Retired teacher, administrator and counselor with the Juneau School District.
Public offices held: Supervisor with the Soil Conservation District and a member of the Weed Control Board in Wahkaikum County, Wash. Member of the Mendenhall Refuge Citizens Advisory Group.
Hobbies: Birding, fishing, hunting waterfowl, hiking.
Keeping the capital in Juneau, improving transportation access and increasing airport safety are some of the issues Reiger would like to address on the Assembly. Juneau needs to make its visitors feel welcome, he said. Public rest rooms, volunteers to meet arriving cruise ships and a bus that serves ferry passengers would help, he said.
"We have to be unified and do all of those things necessary to justify to other Alaskans we are worthy of being the capital," he said. "One of things capitals need to do is to make sure that they have a welcome mat out for not only other Alaskans and people from Southeast, but people who come from other countries."
Juneau needs to maximize efforts to improve ferry service and airport safety, Reiger said. He said he is open to the idea of a road.
"Once we look at what the specific proposal is, once we understand what the cost and environmental impact is going to be, I'm open to looking at that as an option," he said. "After you've got the information and have a consensus on what to do with it, then I think it's important for us to unite and get behind that instead of continuing to beat ourselves up about it."
Airport safety has been a particular concern of Reiger's. The community and the Federal Aviation Administration have allowed trees to grow up along the runway, attracting birds that can strike aircraft, he said.
"I believe very strongly that any human life is worth more than other forms of life," he said. "Even though I do love those other creatures, I think it's important to figure out what our priorities are."
Reiger filed suit against the city and City Manager Dave Palmer last year in an effort to stop sewer discharges into Gastineau Channel. While sewer improvements are going in along North Douglas Highway and Channel Drive, the suit is pending because the city has not addressed procedural questions, he said.
"I view it not with anger, but with frustration and sadness that public safety issues have such a hard time being addressed in a public forum," he said. "It was a public interest lawsuit and I don't expect to get any kind of remuneration or gain. It was necessary to do to get city officials to speak to choices and decisions they need to be responsible for."
Reiger said he is dedicated to improving the business climate in Juneau. Encouraging business through the Juneau Economic Development Council and tax incentives are ways to help, he said.
"We have to get off of this business that 'I like Juneau the way it was 35 years ago.' I did. But I also understand that for a variety of reasons, we can't ever go back to that," he said.
Reiger said he thinks the city has lost support in the community for its bear polices. He would like a program that makes distinctions between different types of problems.
"It just seems to me that in any interface between wildlife and humans, you have to manage the wildlife so the humans are safe," he said.
Reiger said he supports the ballot measure separating funding authorization for a new high school in the valley and Juneau-Douglas High School renovations. And he said he hopes to build consensus on the issue of flight noise.
"The less government has to regulate, the better off we are. I would hope to build consensus in this community that we would have all kinds of people, regardless of their specific personal preferences, say this is in the best interest of us as a whole," he said.
Joanna Markell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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