Juneau Assembly candidate Jeff Bush says he's running because the current Assembly isn't doing enough for schools.
During the past decade, he said, he has been working at the School Board and school sites to make sure teachers receive all the support they need to help their students succeed. But he said the Assembly hasn't done its share to support education.
"The Assembly has recently failed to show a strong commitment to Juneau's education," Bush, 51, said. "We need to make funding for education the highest priority for the use of city funds."
Bush said he is running against District 1 incumbent Jeannie Johnson to make sure the Assembly fully funds education.
"I think education is the highest priority for the community," Bush said. "Educating our kids is all the future is about."
Bush said Johnson voted against full funding for schools, a statement Johnson described as unfair.
In June, the Assembly voted to raise the mill rate by 0.36 mills. Roughly $1 million will be generated from the increase. Although the Juneau School District asked the Assembly to fund education to the cap, the Assembly voted to allocate 99.8 percent of the money for education with the rest restoring some cuts in the city government.
Johnson was the lone Assembly member who voted against raising the mill rate. But she proposed moving $35,000 from the school funding to maintain city roads in the winter. The winter road maintenance was one of the many projects for which City Manager Rod Swope requested restored funding.
"I didn't vote against education. I voted against the mill rate increase," Johnson said.
This isn't the first time Bush has run for the Assembly. In 1993, he lost a district-wide seat to Al Clough by 791 votes.
In 1994, he was elected to the Juneau School Board. He served on the board for six years. He recently co-chaired the Build It Now group, trying to make the Valley high school a reality.
Although education is his passion, Bush's personal career has been intertwined with public service.
He served as an assistant attorney general in the Alaska Department of Law. He was appointed to the governor's Exxon Valdez oil spill task force in 1989. He also worked as deputy commissioner of the Alaska Department of Community and Economic Development, responsible for business regulation and development. Since 2003, he has been executive director of Alaska Public Entity Insurance.
A veteran of elections and campaigns, Bush said he is more relaxed this time. He said his strategy is simple.
"I try to meet as many people as I can," he said. "I feel very confident talking about school issues but learning about other things is interesting and challenging."
Bush said if elected, he wants to complete the city's long-range waterfront plan. He opposes building another cruise ship dock downtown and said he feels strongly about retaining building height restriction along the waterfront.
"We don't want another parking garage in our waterfront," Bush said. "It's a poor decision."
An avid golf player, Bush wants to see the development of a standard golf course. "It's about our quality of life," said Bush, who always travels with his golf clubs. "It's not just golf. The city should encourage all kinds of arts and recreational activities."
Moving forward with the second channel crossing is another major component of Bush's platform.
"The second crossing can alleviate some traffic in downtown and provide access between Valley residents and residents in north Douglas," Bush said. "It also opens north Douglas for residential and commercial development."
Candidate Jeff Bush
Job: Executive director of Alaska Public Equity Insurance, a company providing insurance to Alaska's schools and municipalities
Education: Bachelor's degree from Swarthmore College; law degree from Hastings College
Public office or organizations:
Assistant attorney general of the Alaska Department of Law (1982-1991)
Member of the Juneau School Board (1994-2000), president (1998 and 1999)
Deputy commissioner of the Alaska Department of Community and Economic Development (1995-2003)
Co-chairman of Build it Now, a group organized earlier this year to advocate for building a new high school in Mendenhall Valley
Length of time in Juneau: 22 years
Family in town: wife and two daughters
Interests and hobbies: fishing, golf, home improvement projects