James Reid spurred to run by Assembly's action on business regs

Assembly District 2 candidates focus on business, development

Posted: Tuesday, September 28, 2004

James Reid said he decided to run for Juneau Assembly in the October election because he was frustrated.

"The current Assembly is not business-friendly," said Reid, manager of the Moose Lodge. "They are not responsive to business owners. I believe I can make a difference."

Reid, who has never run for public office before, became more involved in city politics last year during the controversy over a smoking ban. In June, the Assembly decided to ban smoking in all restaurants bars in January 2005 and extend the ban to all bars in January 2008. The Moose Lodge currently allows customers to smoke inside.

"Who knows how to run the business best except the owner?" Reid asked.

Reid said his competitor, incumbent District 2 Assembly member Randy Wanamaker, doesn't support business because Wanamaker voted in favor of the smoking ban. Wanamaker said he supports the ban for health and economic reasons.

"Before we passed the ordinance to extend the smoking ban, some businesses were exempted from the ban," Wanamaker said. "I don't think it was fair to the businesses that were not exempted."

"I am a responsible businessman. I am all for creating a healthy business environment for all our employees and all the other people in our community," Wanamaker added.

Reid said the Assembly should run the city government like a business.

"I work seven days a week to make Moose Lodge successful," Reid said. "I don't see a difference between running the place and running the city. You have to create revenues and you have to watch how you spend the revenues."

Reid said before he joined the Moose Lodge in 2000 the lodge was notorious for outstanding bills. But he turned things around by cutting expenses, increasing membership and holding various activities to raise money.

"Now we have money in the bank. Bills are paid on time. And we have more money to sponsor youth and senior programs," Reid said.

Reid talked about the many ways to lower tax and increase city revenues.

"My first priority is to more city government away from downtown Juneau," Reid said. "The city can save a lot of money by moving the City Hall, the Public Works building and all the other offices we currently pay rent for to Kmart."

Reid said by centralizing the city government offices in one location, the city can sell its downtown properties to businesses.

"Then we have added money from property tax and sales tax," Reid said. "Right now, it is hard to find parking in downtown. By moving the city government to Kmart, you not only save money in rent but also free up parking lots in downtown."

Reid said he walked around the Kmart property to count how many parking spaces it has. "It has 734 spots and 15 handicapped spots," Reid said. "There's plenty of room for visitors and city employees."

Reid said the city should sell Eaglecrest Ski Area to a developer to make it a world-class facility.

"The city should allow the developer to build a restaurant, a bar and a hotel," said Reid, who doesn't ski himself. "If they have the facility, people who don't ski can go up there to enjoy a drink and have a place to stay. All of these add revenue to the city and cost individuals less tax money."

Restoring free bus fare for seniors and people with disabilities is the first thing Reid said he would do if elected.

"Twelve dollars and 50 cents is not a lot of money but for people who live on a fixed income, they can buy a gallon of milk and a loaf of break every other week. We can sell ads on the bus to generate revenues so people don't need to dig into their pockets."

Reid described himself as "short-tempered, stubborn, business-oriented and workaholic but other than that, a pretty nice guy."

His coworker and friend, Donna Sheridan, describes Reid as "fair, funny but formidable in fights."

"Moose Lodge is a family lodge. As you can imagine, family isn't always going smoothly," said Sheridan, who has known Reid for nine years. "But Jim always listens to concerns from everyone. Sometimes he has to make hard decisions but he is always fair."

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