Stone tackles city's issues

Posted: Tuesday, September 30, 2003

David Stone is running uncontested for the District 1 Assembly seat, but he doesn't take that for granted.

"You need to run like you have an opponent," he said in an interview Monday. "People need to know where you stand on the issues."

Despite the lack of a competing campaign, Stone said he has been doing his homework. He's met with the heads of the airport, hospital, city and Docks & Harbors Board. He's been to several Assembly meetings and even testified before city leaders recently. He's thought out major city issues and has plans for tackling them.

Stone is running for a three-year term in the Oct. 7 election. He would succeed Assembly member Ken Koelsch, who is not seeking re-election. He would take office Oct. 27. The job pays $6,000 a year.

Stone, 46, has never been elected to political office, but he has name recognition. Stone was the spokesman for Alaska Electric Light & Power from 1982 to 1990 and returned to the company in 2000. He still works there. He was the spokesman for Echo Bay Mines from 1990 to 1998.

He's known for being a local mining historian and sits on several boards in the area.

"I think people see me as a moderate in many respects," said Stone, a registered Republican.

He got involved in the race after people in the community approached him about the job. When Stone heard Koelsch was not running for re-election, he decided to pursue the seat, he said. Koelsch, a former high school teacher of Stone's, is helping advise him in the campaign.

As Juneau faces a deficit in 2004, Stone thinks it "unwise" for city leaders to make across-the-board cuts and will review city programs, he said. He would consider outsourcing the garbage patrol for bears to the Gastineau Humane Society and review the need for four community service officers. Core city services such as fire, police and sewer and water departments should remain intact, he said.

"Everything else is on the table," he said.

Stone will look to City Manager Rod Swope to recommend ways to handle the deficit, he said.

On a new capitol, Stone has voted in favor of a building in the past. But he questions whether the city has the support in the state legislature to guarantee the backing of revenue bonds.

"I think we need to know that because it could be a strong sell otherwise," he said.

Opponents of a new capitol say political leaders in Anchorage may try to usurp control with a cheaper facility up north. Others say a new building will cement Juneau as the capital city because the building will be more accommodating to legislators and staff.

"We can't be afraid of how Anchorage will respond," Stone said. "Fear will make us do nothing."

A road connecting Juneau to other Southeast communities will help keep Juneau as the capital, he said.

Moreover, independent travelers, who could use a road to reach other Southeast communities, would spend more money than cruise ship passengers. And Juneau residents can simply travel to other areas without spending the time and money typically associated with ferries, he said.

On tourism, Stone would investigate a bypass road parallel to South Franklin Street to manage traffic when thousands of cruise ship passengers visit Juneau.

"We didn't do a good job of planning for cruise ships," he said.

He favors a seawalk for downtown, saying it will make the waterfront more aesthetic.

On other issues: Stone favors a second Gastineau Channel crossing to reduce the commute time from North Douglas and provide for safer travel during inclement weather. He would explore putting city-owned land at Lena Point and in West Douglas back on the property tax rolls.

He favors extending the airport runway and says the city needs to be able to fly as many passengers as possible, especially with the lack of a road. He suggested developing a wetlands bank in which acreage could be developed elsewhere to offset losses at the airport.

Eaglecrest Ski Area officials, he said, should try to increase revenue through on-site cabins, summer activities and renting out the lodge for events.

• Tara Sidor can be reached at tara.sidor@juneauempire.com.



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