Cruise ship industry employee says he would not work for repeal of $5 marine passenger fee

Professor, cruise ship industry manager vie for District 2

Posted: Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Andrew Green has taken a low profile in his campaign for the District 2 Juneau Assembly seat.

Green, port manager for Cruise Line Agencies of Alaska, knows people who wouldn't mind donating big money to his campaign but he filed an exemption with the Alaska Public Offices Commission and didn't intend to raise more than $5,000 for the campaign.

"I don't want people to feel the cruise industry is buying its way because it is not true at all," said Green, 32.

Joe Geldhof, an attorney who is among the petitioners calling for a statewide cruise head tax increase, said he was pleased to hear that Green would not repeal the city's $5 marine passenger fee. Geldhof asked Green the question at a candidates' forum.

Juneau voters passed the fee in 1999 to ask cruise ship passengers to share the cost of city services and infrastructure. The fee is expected to generate $4.63 million for the city in fiscal year 2006.

Green said working for the cruise ship industry doesn't mean he represents a special interest. He said he should be treated the same as any candidate who works for state government or in the fishing industry.

Green said he wants to bring action to the Assembly.

"The city has too many committees," said Green, himself a member of the city's Passenger Fee Proceeds Committee. "The Assembly has done the best it can but people want to see a difference."

Green said many people are frustrated with rising taxation and lack of basic needs.

Green was born in South Carolina. His family moved to Fairbanks in 1979, where they lived for 10 years before relocating to Juneau.

Green's father is the pastor of Glacier Valley Church of God. Associate Pastor Gerald Bennett Sr. said the church's young people like Green because of his open attitudes.

"He is always concerned about others," said Bennett, who has known Green for more than 15 years. "He is a sharp young fellow. He would be good for Juneau."

While he was attending college in Cleveland, Tenn., he worked for his current company, Cruise Line Agencies of Alaska, as a night agent.

After graduating from college, Green came back to Juneau, continuing to work for the company.

"I am very proud of the industry I work in," Green said. "It provides a significant part of Juneau's tax base. It is a positive industry."

During tourist season, Green works with hundreds of people daily at tasks ranging from looking for missing luggage to evacuating a sick tourist from Glacier Bay to dealing with federal, state, and city regulators.

"I collaborate and engage with many people to solve problems on a daily basis," Green said. "I would use the same quality on the Assembly to make our government more efficient and effective."

Juneau Port Director John Stone said Green has done an excellent job working with different agencies to schedule cruise ships.

Green has attended Collaboration Juneau meetings since 2003.

Organized by residents and sponsored by the city in 2003, Collaboration Juneau is meant to resolve conflicts between the tourism industry and residents.

Former Juneau Assembly member Rosemary Hagevig, who is also a member of Collaboration Juneau, said she is impressed by Green's patience and willingness to listen as the number of people attending the meetings dwindles.

"Drew shows up on a regular basis," Hagevig said. "That shows me that he is willing to stick with what he started. He is dependable."

Although some have questioned whether Green will have time for the Assembly during the tourism season, Hagevig said Green would make time for Assembly meetings.

"The fact that he can do the job he has and do it well is a perfect example of his ability to juggle a lot of balls in the air at the same time," Hagevig said. "He is busy with his work. But he still makes time for Collaboration Juneau. You make time for things."

Green said if elected, he would focus on improving and expanding the city's infrastructure. He said the city should expand sewer, maintain harbors and refurbish Juneau International Airport.

"We need to maintain existing facilities so Juneau can ensure a viable, diverse and sustainable economy," Green said.

Green said he has a hard time supporting building a $26 million aquatic center in Mendenhall Valley.

"I am sure the valley needs a pool but I am not sure if we need that at the current fiscal state of the city," he said.

Economic diversity is important for Juneau's future, he said.

"To have a stable, reliable economic environment in Juneau, diversity is necessary so the city won't rely on a few primary economic sources such as the public sector, mining, fishing and tourism," Green said.

The city needs to be fiscally responsible and accountable to support business, he said.

"If you tax business too much, it won't be a welcoming environment for business," Green said. "If sales tax is too high, people spend less. If property tax is too high, it is hard for families to afford to live in Juneau."

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