District 2 candidate Jonathan Anderson says he is running for the Juneau Assembly to put the public administration theories he has been teaching into practice.
Anderson, director of the University of Alaska Southeast's public administration master's program, has taught many people in city and state government.
Former Juneau Assembly member Rosemary Hagevig, state Management and Budget Director Cheryl Frasca and District 2 Assembly candidate Joan Cahill all graduated from the program.
"Some university professors might think I am getting into the muddy politics," said Anderson, 53. "Citizens who don't know me think I am a professor from the ivory tower."
Anderson said if elected, he will serve as a bridge between the university and the city.
Anderson, who grew up in Illinois and Maryland, hasn't always been an academic.
Between 1984 and 1989, he worked as a taxi driver and eventually owned a cab company in Bozeman, Mont. He had about 10 employees and did everything from bookkeeping to dispatching.
"It was a great educational experience," Anderson said. "Running a business isn't easy. I have tremendous respect for small business owners. Without business, there is no thriving Juneau."
Even nowadays, Anderson always carries a clipboard that shows the cab fares in different areas of Bozeman. On it is a copy of the U.S. and Alaska constitutions.
"They are my strategic plans," Anderson said. "My business and public administration go together."
Former Juneau City Manager Kevin Ritchie, who teaches public administration with him, said Anderson demonstrates good negotiation and administrative skills in running the master's program.
"Many people in the program are mid-career people who are raising a family and have a full-time job," said Ritchie, who graduated from the program himself. "He tries to make the program work for individuals instead of following the letter of the rule."
Anderson agreed to let Ritchie get credits for the classes Ritchie had been teaching without having to take classes from a different professor.Since 1994, Ritchie has been executive director of the Alaska Municipal League, a statewide organization representing 142 municipalities.
While he is not teaching at the university or walking with his Great Dane, Anderson volunteers for Hospice and Home Care of Juneau.
Jean Jasmine, volunteer coordinator of the hospice, said Anderson is reliable and compassionate.
"He will do any job you ask of him," Jasmine said. "He will drive all the way from the valley to answer the phone while we are at our staff meetings. He will go to the client's home to take out the garbage or shovel snow."
Jasmine said Anderson is a good listener.
"He is very skilled in just sitting there and listening to his clients, paying attention to what they say and bringing out their chatty side," Jasmine said. "He makes people feel good about themselves."
Anderson said he has spent his life finding ways to resolve conflicts and create consensus, when he worked as a U.S. diplomat in Australia and Bangladesh in the early 1980s or did his dissertation on how six countries tried to resolve their ethnic conflicts.
"Diplomacy is a way for different governments to work out their differences without going to war with each other," Anderson said.
Although Anderson, a Quaker, didn't support the Vietnam War, he enlisted as a medic and served in Vietnam for a year before he was honorably discharged.
"I was anti-war but I wanted to serve our country," said Anderson, whose bumper sticker says, "when Jesus says love your enemy, that probably means you shouldn't kill them."
Anderson said he doesn't worry about his opponent's identity.
"I am not concerned who I am running against," Anderson said. "I run for who I am and what I believe in."
A proponent of open government, Anderson said he wants to have all Assembly meetings broadcast live on television.
"Some citizens of Juneau feel that the government takes action behind their backs or makes special deals," Anderson said. "I don't think that is true. One way to help gain public trust is to be open in everything the government does."
Anderson said during his door-to-door campaign, he has heard many residents call the city's land sale to developer Hugh Grant a backroom deal.
"The city didn't have an open bidding for that land. That created an appearance of a special deal," Anderson said.
Anderson said the city should work with Grant to find out how to make development easier.
"He has done a good job in building Juneau," Anderson said.
Anderson said he wants to see the city exclude groceries and utilities from sales tax.
"The basic needs of people should be excluded from the sales tax to create less a burden on lower income people," Anderson said.
Anderson, who supports building a swimming pool in the valley, said he has heard people call the swimming pool a "want" during the campaign.
"You can call anything a want," Anderson said. "We don't want to live in a community that has just bare necessities. We want to live in a community where we can enjoy ourselves. That's why Eaglecrest (Ski Area) and Treadwell Ice Arena are important."
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