Assembly candidates weigh in on issues

Posted: Friday, September 24, 2010

Three people running for a District 2 City Assembly seat participated in a forum at the Juneau Chamber of Commerce luncheon Thursday, weighing in on questions about the upcoming propositions.

Greg Brown, Karen Crane and Christopher Nelson are all vying for the seat. Candidate Mary Becker, running unopposed for a District 1 seat, was also present but was not given the opportunity to answer the same questions. Incumbent Johan Dybdahl, who is running unopposed for re-election to an areawide seat was not present.

Candidates were asked if they support the Lynn Canal Highway, which would connect Juneau to Skagway.

Brown and Crane were both opposed.

"I have not seen any proposal that financially makes sense," he said. Brown also didn't like that the road would be closed 2 to 3 months of the year. "There are better ways to spend our money."

Nelson supports the project, saying it's necessary for Juneau's future.

"We have to build it someday," he said. "So let's build it before it costs us $1 billion."

Candidates also weighed in on Proposition 1, which authorizes $18.7 million in general obligation bonds for Auke Bay Elementary School renovations. All three support the measure.

"Some of the maintenance and repair for some of the schools got held up when we were debating and deciding on a second (high) school," Crane said. "There will be a request for Gastineau (Elementary) next year. It makes economic sense to make sure those schools are well maintained."

Candidates also weighed in on the most controversial proposition this election season - extending the 1 percent temporary sales tax for 10 years for a second crossing to Douglas.

Brown and Crane said they both supported a second crossing, but refused to support this proposal.

Brown disagreed with the Sunny Point location named in the proposition, the environmental questions left and the financing. Crane said that in her door-to-door chats with people, there is overwhelming support for a second crossing, however many have told her they don't know what they're voting on or why Vanderbilt Hill Road was dismissed without discussion. Crane said it's three years out until the tax expires and believes there is still time to answer the community's questions.

Nelson was in favor of the proposition, saying the city should do it while it can afford it.

The city budget and financing was also addressed.

All three were concerned about the future. Brown said the next two years look OK, but was concerned with the $2.4 million draw last year out of the rainy day fund.

"We need to do an analysis of what we're spending," he said. "We need to look for ways of bringing wealth into the community."

Crane and Nelson said each program needs to be looked at and evaluated, and neither support across-the-board cuts.

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