Danner's assembly campaign about finding middle ground

Posted: Friday, September 18, 2009

Ruth Danner wants to sit on the Juneau Assembly to help find middle ground among the city's sometimes polarized views, she said.

Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire
Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire

Her campaign slogan, "Because gray matters" describes how she wants to help listen to all sides of issues and find solutions that are not black and white but "win-win" for everyone, she said.

"Juneau already has a solid mix of Assembly Members who are committed to development and to protecting our resources," she said. "What we need now is someone who is dedicated to finding solutions that incorporate the best of both ideas and has the determination to get things done in a way where we can all win."

The political newcomer is challenged by Stephanie Madsen, who ran an unsuccessful bid last year for the Republican nomination for the Juneau valley House seat.

Danner is a registered Independent who has contributed to both Democratic and Republican campaigns in Alaska.

She said her collaborative approach would help the Assembly address its looming budget deficit. Like her opponent, she supports steps the city has already taken to trim costs, but Danner said she also would consider shorter work weeks for employees and talking to unions about concessions, if necessary.

She wants to preserve jobs, however.

"Every dollar in wages you cut has a multiplier on the economy," she said. "We need to keep people working as much as possible."

Danner said she thinks the national economic outlook is brighter and hopes the city can "hold on" until things improve.

"Two thousand and eight was a terrible year," she said. "We can always hold out hope that the economy will improve and the deficit will shrink."

Otherwise, she'll look for efficiencies within government, she said. She supports spending some of the city's $10 million "rainy day" fund to help balance the budget.

"It's fair to say it's raining very hard right now," she said.

Like her opponent, Danner thinks better jobs are a way to a brighter future for the city. She supports energy projects such as the Southeast Intertie and other clean energy businesses that would bring jobs to Juneau.

Danner said she also would support a capital project to address the city's trash flow.

"There's no time to waste," she said. "It's going to cost money and we're going to have to step up to the plate and do it."

A new incinerator, increased recycling and a Southeast waste processing facility - possibly in Juneau - are ideas she would consider, she said.

She could not say how much she might support spending on recycling, but said it is a good short-term answer to extend the landfill's life span.

"It's going to be awhile before we can afford an incinerator, so it seems to me recycling is the answer for now," she said.

Danner is a senior accountant with the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation. She has lived in Juneau for 22 years.

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