Campaign to divide

Posted: Sunday, September 30, 2001

I have been a successful small business owner for 23 years with clients on six continents. As a citizen, my interests most often lie with national and international issues. However, as a voter, who by next Tuesday will have voted in the last 10 Alaska elections, I cannot help but notice the divisive rancor in the Juneau Empire that has ensued over the capital move issue for the past several months. This has led me to two observations.

First, I am puzzled that the business leaders of this community - the bankers, the brokers, and the builders - appear to be the most vocal in this Empire-led campaign to divide our community and lay blame on individuals and organizations for candidates and issues that a majority of Juneau voters approved in recent elections. Yet the very businesses partaking in this campaign have everything to lose should Alaska voters decide to move the capital next statewide election.

Second, I cannot help but see through the vicious fog of this effort by disgruntled past leaders to demonize individuals and groups who will not go along with their vision for the future of Juneau. If I were a single-issue voter anywhere in the state, and my only concern was for the environment, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that a vote for the capital move - one simple hole punched in the voting booth - would remove forever every capital project planned for Juneau that has unaddressed environmental issues. This would certainly include the airport expansion, a second crossing, highway overpasses, the golf course, public transportation in general, and foremost, a road out of Juneau. A divided Juneau cannot elicit the support around the state that will be necessary to keep the capital and maintain our economy.

As a progressive voter who was in the majority last election, I am insulted by the divisive discourse being waged. Apparently, our votes are not recognized by the minority who did not prevail in the 2000 local election. I encourage all voters to cast your vote based on the merits of the person and the project, not the mischaracterizations created by a disgruntled few. Securing Juneau's future will require a progressive vision by community leaders and a vigorous, inclusive discourse which welcomes many differing opinions and views on issues.

Jeff Gnass


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