Assembly candidates for District 1 air their views

Johnson wants more land available for development

Posted: Monday, September 27, 2004

Some people criticize Assembly member Jeannie Johnson for being pro-business and pro-development. Johnson said that's a fair description of her and she sees no reason to apologize.

"We won't have affordable housing unless we get more lands available for development and tweak our zoning regulations," said Johnson, who is running for re-election in District 1. "We also need to support businesses so we can have more jobs. We can do that in a very responsible manner."

Because of her support for business and property owners, Johnson didn't vote for the mill rate increase in June. She was the only Assembly member that didn't. About 99.8 percent of the revenue generated will fund education.

"It hurts my industry when property tax goes up," said Johnson, who has been in the real estate business for almost 30 years.

Her opponent, Jeff Bush, said voting against the increase showed she wasn't committed to education. Johnson said she supports education, but she believes that education should not be the Assembly's sole focus.

"The Assembly does more than education," Johnson said. "Almost half our tax dollars go to fund education. I was elected to ask the critical questions of whether our tax dollars are spent at the right places."

To show her support for education, Johnson, who previously refused to reveal her stand on the two school propositions, said she will vote yes on both. One proposition proposes constructing a second high school in the Mendenhall Valley. The other suggests redirecting $18 million in school bond proceeds to repair and maintain school facilities.

"Maintenance doesn't sound sexy," Johnson said. "But it's important."

Johnson said she is a well-rounded candidate.

To gain a broader perspective of government operations, she has served on many city and state committees. She chairs the city's Finance Committee, Public Works and Facilities Committee and Waterfront Development Committee. She also serves on the mayor's Capital Planning Commission and High School Project Team.

Johnson is the Assembly liaison to the Juneau Airport Board. Before she was elected to the Assembly, her passion for flying helicopters led her to serve on the board for four years.

On the state level, she is co-chairwoman of finance for the Alaska Municipal League. She was recently elected treasurer of Southeast Conference, a regional, nonprofit corporation that advances the collective interests of the communities in Southeast Alaska.

At last week's Southeast Conference summit, she made a presentation on how the state funding cuts have affected local municipalities.

"Juneau has been cut by $2 million from the state funding the last two years," Johnson said. "When oil prices go to $40 a barrel, there is no mechanism for that state money to go to local governments. This causes local government to increase taxes or cut services. We need to be able to get some state dollars to local levels."

As the lone female Assembly member, Johnson said she uses a teamwork approach. Some people said Johnson seems to try to please everyone, but she doesn't consider it a problem.

"I am a real estate broker. My responsibility is to make both the seller and the buyer happy," said Johnson, who has been in the real estate business for almost 30 years. "When I am on the Assembly, I always listen to people, try to work for everybody and bring two sides to the middle."

Johnson counts the construction of Marine Park, the remodeling of Juneau-Douglas High School and the installation of restrooms at the airport's departure lounge as a few of her achievements during the three years she has served on the Assembly.

Candidate Jeannie Johnson

Age: 57

Job: Real estate broker. Owner of J. Johnson Co.

Education: high school

Public offices or organizations:

Assembly member (2001-present)

Chairwoman of city Finance Committee (2003-present)

Chairwoman of city Public Works and Facilities (2002-2003)

Chairwoman of city Waterfront Development Committee (2003-present)

Member of the mayor-appointed Capital Planning Commission (2004-present)

Member of High School Project Team (2002-present)

Member of Alaska Real Estate Commission (1999-2002) chair (in 2002)

Director of Southeast Conference (2003 and 2004)

Treasurer of Southeast Conference (2004-present)

Length of time in Juneau: nine years

Family in town: Husband

Interests and hobbies: gardening, photography and flying

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