District 1 Assembly Race

Stone seeks another term to tackle high cost of living

Posted: Thursday, September 28, 2006

David Stone wants to build on his experience on the Juneau Assembly to help the community remedy the cost of living and lack of affordable housing.

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"I don't think a lot of people understand the work it takes," he said. "There's a steep learning curve in how all the issues work."

Stone said it took a while after being elected in 2003 to figure out how to work effectively on the Assembly.

"I feel I really get it now," he said.

Stone is facing challenger Mark Stopha for a District 1 Assembly seat in the Oct. 3 city election.

Opening up land on West Douglas and building a second Gastineau Channel crossing are vitally important to helping the community begin to solve the affordable housing problem, Stone said.

"For the Assembly it is its highest priority because where else are we going to go where there is land that is suitable for development?" he said.

Expanding the sewer throughout the community to increase housing density might not sound too good to taxpayers, but it is needed, Stone said.

"It's a key part of us opening up more land for affordable housing," he said. "It's not sexy, but expanding sewer is important."

Randy Bayliss said he got to see Stone work in a highly ethical manner when they served together on the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council Board of Directors.

"He's the kind of guy you can send out and he will represent you well and make a good impression," Bayliss said.

Stone was always a class act who does things by the book, Bayliss said.

"He's a diplomat. There's a difference between a politician and a statesman, and he's more of a statesman," he said. "A statesman is someone for whom you have respect and who does his job of representing the people he's supposed to represent."

A longtime supporter of the local mining industry, Stone said the construction of the Kensington Mine is vital to providing living wage jobs for younger citizens who have difficulty affording the cost of living in Juneau.

"People are going to make very good wages and they will have transferable skills and they'll be able to pay taxes, buy homes and raise families," he said. "We're talking about young people, capturing young people and keeping them in Juneau. This is not 'the answer' but it is part of the answer."

None of the community's big issues have a single solution, like building the road out of Juneau, Stone said. When traveling around the state he hears from a lot of people that having a road connection to the capital is important to Alaskans.

"I do think it is a capital move issue," Stone said. "Do I think they are going to drive to the capital if there is a road? Probably not, but perception is reality."

Stone said he would not describe himself as a "road booster," but he believes constructing the road would be beneficial to the community and the state.

"I care very much about keeping the capital," he said. "I believe it is the cornerstone of our economy."

The road is out of the city's hands and is up to the state, Stone said. The city should spend some time to figure out how to expand the airport to increase transportation to the capital, he said.

"We've got to do something with the airport," Stone said. "To me that is an important part of keeping the capital too."

He said the airport is inadequate for the number of residents and visitors that use the facilities.

Reducing the mil rate and lowering property taxes this year and developing the Downtown Waterfront Plan were two of the highlights during his past three years in office, Stone said.

Keeping the senior sales tax on the books also was memorable, Stone said. He was the tie-breaking vote that put the contentious issue to rest, at least for now.

"I think we need to look at it at some point, but clearly there was so much divisiveness that I don't think the Assembly will touch it soon," Stone said. "But eventually I think we will need to address it because the Baby Boomers could really tax the city."

Being on the Assembly has been a real learning experience and he hopes to continue to move Juneau forward, Stone said.

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