Randy Wanamaker emphasizes managing tourism, development

Assembly District 2 candidates focus on business, development

Posted: Tuesday, September 28, 2004

District 2 Assembly member Randy Wanamaker is running for re-election on essentially the same platform he first used in 1995.

During his run at Assembly, Wanamaker talked about the importance of managing tourism and making city lands available for development. He lost that election, but nine years later almost every Assembly candidate is talking about those two issues.

"In 1995, people couldn't relate to these issues well," said Wanamaker, who won election in 2001. "Tourism hadn't been a big problem as it is today. People relate to the issue better."

Wanamaker said during the past three years he has been working on mitigating the effects of tourism. He said he strongly supports Collaboration Juneau, a nonprofit panel which aims for consensus on Juneau tourism.

"Even though it is a lengthy process, I think things will come out of it," Wanamaker said. "In order to resolve problems, people need to sit down, agree on what issues should be discussed and identify problems that cannot be resolved and those that can be resolved. And we can work on the problems that can be resolved. With that success, people will be encouraged."

Born and raised in Juneau, Wanamaker said the town is very different from the one he grew up in when timbering, fishing and canning were the biggest industries in town.

"All the parents worked in the salmon cannery during the summer," Wanamaker said. "We learned how to cook, wash and take care of other kids at an early age."

But nowadays, most Juneau residents are working for the state government or in the tourism industry. Wanamaker said the city needs to prepare a long-term economic and employment diversification plan so families and retirees can stay in Juneau.

"Juneau is fortunate in having the Kensington and Greens Creek mines to buffer state job losses and budget cuts," Wanamaker said. "We can plan to enhance our town for industries such as fisheries and light manufacturing by identifying what will fit our community."

Wanamaker said with a long-term plan the city can add more jobs and businesses to tax rolls so each individual's tax burden can be reduced.

He said opening up city lands for residential, commercial and light-industrial development can generate more revenues and make housing more affordable and spread out through Juneau.

Wanamaker said the city needs to expand its sewer and utility lines to lands for development.

An environmental planner by profession, he said he will be able to balance between environmental conservation and business development.

Wanamaker said the city should watch its expenses, too.

"The Eaglecrest Ski Area should improve their marketing skills," Wanamaker said. "It's a worthy asset that provides valuable services. But it still has to be cost-efficient."

Wanamaker said he has had a wide range of experiences in businesses and public service to make his campaign platforms come true. He represented Alaska in the National Watershed Protection Summit in 2001 and 2002. He served as chairman of Goldbelt, Juneau's urban Native corporation. He was a member of the Juneau Douglas School District Budget Task Force for six years.

During the past three years, Wanamaker served on the city Human Resources Committee, Finance Committee and Assembly Emergency Planning Review Committee. He is also the Assembly liaison to the Juneau Planning Commission.

"I see myself as thoughtful and able to listen to all sides. This aids me in determining the overall best interests of the community," Wanamaker said.

A Tlingit, Wanamaker said he cares about Juneau because this is where his ancestors were and where he raised his family. He said his grandfathers and their brothers used to take him hunting, fishing and clam-digging while telling him what Juneau was like before it was Juneau.

"I work on all things that are important to the community to make living in Juneau worthwhile," he said.

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