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Letters

Assembly is antique

Posted: Monday, September 25, 2000

Probably to no surprise Juneau's mayor will probably win with less than 50 percent of the vote. It is time to put our present system on antique road show. A small town like Hoonah and cities like Anchorage and Fairbanks have runoff elections and it is time Juneau joins the 21st century.

Another antique is our silly system of electing all our assembly members at large. It is time we have our candidates only run from their specific districts. As a small Juneau boy in the 1940s, the candidates always came to the homes to campaign and you got to personally know the candidates. Juneau's population of more than 31,000 makes it impossible for candidates to canvass every home or get to personally know the voters. Smaller districts would bring the politicians closer to the people. Also, every part of Juneau has different concerns (look at the tourism issue the downtown vs. valley.) Further, I would recommend adding two more assembly members and have one each run at large from the downtown legislative district and the other from the valley house district. This is a good mix and would really give the people of Juneau true representation.

Our assembly didn't want to tackle the issue of deciding whether to have a head tax. Pressure from the voters finally got the issue on the ballot. The assembly probably has the power to make the above changes but I fear it is the voters who will have to pressure the assembly to put the above issues on the ballot.

I do not think the extra money spent on runoffs or adding two assembly members is out of line. If little Hoonah can have runoff elections then Juneau can do the same. If making changes increases the voting numbers and greater citizen participation in the political process then the added expense of the assembly members and runoff elections (when needed) is worth it.

Ralph Swap



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