Today's profiles of Juneau Assembly candidates are part of a week-long look at people on the ballot in the Oct. 3 city election.
Wednesday's Empire will profile District 1 assembly candidates Ken Koelsch and Maridon Boario, plus District 2 assembly candidate Dale Anderson.
Thursday and Friday's paper will feature Juneau School Board candidates Chuck Cohen, Alan Schorr, Daniel Peterson and John Greeley.
McConnochie's concerns: Jobs, capital move
How long in Juneau: 20 years.
Family in Juneau: Husband, John.
Education: Bachelor of arts, history and American studies, Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
Occupation: Owner of Alaska Coastal Homes, a real estate consulting firm; facilitator, strategic planning services.
Public offices held: Past president, Juneau Gastineau Rotary Club; past president, Juneau Chamber of Commerce; past chairwoman, Alaska Committee Subcommittee on Affortable Housing.
Hobbies: Cooking, gardening, running, reading, hiking.
PeggyAnn McConnochie is making her second run for the Juneau Assembly's areawide seat. The position was vacated by Tom Garrett in July and will leave the winner of the two-way race to serve two years of a three-year term.
The assembly will have difficult issues to face in the future, she said. "Our future has a question mark attached to it: whether we can keep the capital, and whether we as a community want our citizens to continue to work."
The state is Juneau's backbone, she said, and state jobs are being moved to Anchorage. "The private sector is another backbone for our community," and citizens need to be concerned about where jobs are going to come from, she said.
McConnochie expressed concern about contention in the community. "Our town tends to look at issues as if they're stand-alone issues. But individual issues we get involved in are part of a greater plan. For example, we can't look at affordable housing without looking at transportation, at commercial and recreational opportunities, and at retail."
Juneau needs to have a broader perspective, she said.
McConnochie will vote yes on the 3 percent sales tax renewal, the 1 percent sales tax renewal, and the school bond. She will vote no on convening a city charter commission and on the tour-flight noise initiative. And the road out of Juneau will get her nod.
"The city needs to have the money in order to operate," McConnochie said off the 3 percent sales tax renewal Proposition 1.
Proposition 2, the five-year, 1 percent sales tax renewal, will fund $20 million worth of Bartlett Regional Hospital expansion, $4 million in school repairs, and $1.1 million for construction of an ice rink.
"It will help keep our schools safe by taking care of deferred maintenance," she said. "The hospital is important to the economy as well as regionally. And the skating rink gives our community more options."
She will vote yes on Proposition 3 the $7.7 million school bond "because we absolutely need it."
But Proposition 4 convening a commission to study possible changes to the city charter gets her thumbs-down. "I'm not convinced that we need it at this time," she said. "The assembly has the ability to make any changes we might need."
She will vote no on Proposition 5, the tourist-flight noise initiative, because "regulation is not the answer," she said. "Protecting quality of life also means protecting our jobs and I will work with the (city-hired) mediator to come to a solution appropriate to all areas of our community."
McConnochie is a supporter of the road out of Juneau and will check off "road" in the ferry/road advisory vote that is Proposition 6.
"I think it's good for the health of the community to make a decision on this," she said.
Her support stems from her concern that Juneau remain a capital city, she said. "Further, Southeast's population has increased and yet ferry capacity has not, nor will it under the proposed fast-ferry system."
The city owes it to families in the community to provide them with affordable transportation options, she said. "The most important thing now is to see that the (Department of Transportation's) draft environmental impact statement be completed," she said "Everything else is pure speculation."
Juneau is in a state of flux and, like life, is always changing, she said. "I smile when people say they want to go back to 1970. I can't do that. There are lots of decisions to be made as to where Juneau is going. We need to point Juneau in a positive direction."
McConnochie cites the University of Alaska Southeast as an option for growth. "They are trying to expand their degrees to bring and keep top students here for four years," she said. "If they could expand into technology, they could be a growth sector for Juneau."
Wheeler says he'd be advocate for residents
How long in Juneau: 5 years.
Family in Juneau: None.
Education: Bachelor of arts in English and history, cum laude, Rice University, Houston, Texas.
Occupation: Former grassroots organizer for Southeast Alaska Conservation Council.
Public offices held: None.
Hobbies, other interests: Hunting, fishing, boating, kayaking, hiking, woodworking.
Former Southeast Alaska Conservation Council grassroots organizer Marc Wheeler is making his first bid for city office the two-year unexpired term for the Juneau Assembly areawide seat vacated by Tom Garrett.
Wheeler said the assembly needs people like him who can listen to a large part of the community, and not just business.
"It is particularly important to have somebody on the assembly who can work to end cruise ship pollution in our waters," he said.
In a letter sent to Mayor Dennis Egan and the assembly Monday, Wheeler called on the panel to pass a resolution supporting legislation proposed last week by Gov. Tony Knowles to regulate cruise ship emissions.
"We want to show our representatives in Washington that there's strong support in Southeast Alaska for tough laws to end cruise ship dumping," he said.
As an assembly member, he said he would work to have docked cruise ships connect with city sewage treatment facilities and, as a remedy to smokestack pollution, connect the ships to city dockside power.
Wheeler will vote yes on four of this fall's ballot propositions: the 3 percent sales tax renewal, the 1 percent sales tax renewal, the school bond, and the proposition authorizing a city charter commission. He does not support the tourist-flight noise initiative and will check off enhanced ferry service on the ferry/road measure.
The assembly has earmarked proceeds from the 3 percent sales tax, Proposition 1, for "basic services" such as roads, drainage, schools, and water and sewer extensions all essential to city operations, Wheeler said.
He also will vote for Proposition 2, a five-year renewal of the 1 percent sales tax.
Of the approximately $26 million the city expects to collect from that tax, the assembly intends to grant Bartlett Regional Hospital $20 million for its expansion program, about $4 million to the school district for school repair and renovation, and $1.1 million to construction of an ice rink in Douglas.
"Our hospital is an economic engine for Juneau," he said. "We've become a regional hub for medical services just as we are for groceries."
Juneau schools have "a lot of deferred-maintenance problems, as well," he said. "And we need more recreational facilities, especially in the wintertime."
With respect to sales taxes in general, Wheeler said he would consider removing some of the exemptions the city grants but not the senior citizens' exemption, an option proposed by one mayoral candidate.
"That's a crazy idea," Wheeler said.
He proposed instead to look at removing the sales tax exemption enjoyed by legislative lobbyists.
Wheeler will vote yes on Proposition 3, the $7.7 million school bond.
He also supports Proposition 4, which asks whether a commission should consider changes to the city charter: "We need to look at the city's rules and regulations to see if they make sense with the changing times," he said. "It's a good idea."
The debate on tour-flight noise "has been a healthy one," he said. "But Proposition 5 (the tourist-flight noise initiative) goes too far."
The city should work with the Forest Service to try to cap the number of landings the agency allows on the Juneau Icefield, he said.
"I don't think the city has been doing enough," Wheeler said. "Nothing came of the meetings convened by the Tourism Advisory Committee. We need an open process, not just listening to everybody and then trying to stack the results in favor of any single group."
Wheeler will vote for enhanced ferry service on the ferry/road advisory vote Proposition 6. "We need to improve access to Juneau responsibly and in a neighborly fashion," he said.