Needing more than 'nice' for mayor

Posted: Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Both mayoral candidates are "nice guys." In fact, it could be argued that either candidate for the Juneau mayor's race this October could qualify for the Juneau Chamber of Commerce's "Outstanding Community Citizen Award."

But before we judge our candidates solely on their curb appeal, it is worth examining what is really at stake in this election.

Our new mayor will have the mother of all political battles to face. The perennial capital move is getting vicious and just last year cost the citizens of Juneau over $1 million to fight. Forces in the Railbelt have learned that, if united, they have the political power to put forward just about any permutation of current law that will mean the de-facto departure of the capital from Juneau. So far, it has been their inability to remain united that has saved us, not leadership from the Juneau mayor's office or the minority members of our legislative delegation. Simply put, we have been very lucky these last few years.

Perhaps at another time, our former mayor who is running for his second chance to guide this city would be an adequate choice. His curb appeal would suffice. Voters on either side of contentious local issues could feel well served. But guiding this city through today's political storms will take tough leadership, experience and a coalition of political allies in strategic places outside of Juneau. Local issues will pale in significance.

Dick Knapp alone brings those critical qualifications to his candidacy. Knapp is not looking for a job. Unlike his opponent, he is capable of galvanizing forces throughout the state to once and for all secure Juneau's rightful place as Alaska's capital city.

While the position of Juneau mayor is ostensibly nonpartisan, we can't ignore the importance of organized political structure in our situation. The success of a mayoral candidate in Juneau supported by liberal environmental factions might thrill those disaffected citizens who seem to be against just about everything. But if the capital moves, environmental issues would become inconsequential as towns and villages of the region go bankrupt.

We remain the capital today because our opponents have been unable to organize effectively behind their cause. Let us not lose the capital because of our inability to do the same. Let the candidate who was mayor in the past become the next Outstanding Community Citizen and let us elect Dick Knapp to be our next mayor. Vote for strong leadership. Vote for Dick Knapp.

Dave Fremming


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