Madsen says she would ask hard questions about spending funds

Posted: Friday, September 18, 2009

Stephanie Madsen is running for the Juneau Assembly District 2 seat to retain a fiscally conservative voice on the nine-member board.

Courtesy Of Stephanie Madsen
Courtesy Of Stephanie Madsen

Madsen said if elected, she would ask hard questions about how the city's funds are being spent, and that sometimes means saying no. That's difficult but an important ability, she said, as the city faces a $4 million to $5 million budget deficit in 2011.

Madsen said she decided to run for the District 2 seat after Sara Chambers chose not to seek reelection because of family obligations that include an infant baby. Madsen said she thought she could retain Chambers' fiscally conservative voice.

To start addressing the deficit, Madsen said she would support zero-based budgeting, meaning to build the budget from scratch, considering each line item before its added rather than adding or subtracting a certain amount from the existing budget.

Basic city services that affect health and safety of citizens need to continue to be funded, but other items need to be reconsidered, she said.

"We must keep money in the pockets of the people as much as possible," she said.

She supports continuing basic spending trims instituted by city administrators such as keeping travel to a minimum and holding job positions open as long as possible.

She said she'd like to avoid major shifts for city employees such as a cuts in hours or wages.

She supports zero tolerance on collecting back taxes to also shore up city funds.

Madsen said that while Juneau experienced a run of flush years, the national economic downturn means it's time to hold back.

Unlike her opponent, she doesn't support spending the city's "rainy day" fund to fix the budget.

Also unlike her opponent, she does not support mandatory recycling.

Instead, Madsen wants to see recycling made more convenient, perhaps with satellite recycling centers.

She doesn't support immediate spending on a capital project such as an incinerator to deal with the city's trash flow, preferring to wait for better technology and better economic times since the landfill has 20 to 25 remaining years of life.

Madsen said that as an Assembly member, she would work to provide infrastructure and services to attract and keep good jobs in Juneau. She noted that it takes 2.1 wage earners to afford a home in Juneau, where the cost of living is 11 percent higher than Anchorage.

The way to deal with that is not necessarily by providing affordable housing, but through better-paying jobs that would help locals afford property, she said.

Madsen is the executive director of the At-sea Processors Association, a trade association for American catcher/processor vessels in the Alaska pollock fishery and West Coast whiting fishery.

Her job is unlikely to present conflicts, she said, since it deals mostly with federal issues outside state waters. She has not needed to register as a state lobbyist in the time she's been with the group, she said.

Madsen previously served as chairwoman of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, the first woman ever to do so.

She also lived in Dutch Harbor for 18 years while involved with the fishing industry there.

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