The Assembly District 2 race to fill the seat left vacant by Sarah Chambers is sure to be a close race. Choosing between Stephanie Madsen and Ruth Danner was difficult. It's unfortunate only one can win. Despite who gets the most votes, Juneau will have competent and capable elected official in office. That much we're sure of.
We give the edge to Stephanie Madsen, who appears ready to hit the ground running on day one. We're also encouraged by her fiscally conservative approach to budgeting.
Both candidates have said they oppose tax increases, but Madsen's solution to the city's impending deficit is more practical. To offset increasing costs and lowered tax revenues, Madsen supports cutting travel spending and non-essential training first, while digging into the budget to find other areas where money can be saved.
In contrast, Danner said she doesn't want to cut jobs or services but would support a shortened workweek for city employees and said she would negotiate with unions to make concessions. This, however, would mean less pay for city workers and would do little to help their financial viability.
We have no doubt, however, that Danner's experience as an accountant would prove beneficial in streamlining spending. She also supports pursing low-cost power sources as a way to generate new jobs and opportunities.
As far as dealing with Juneau's growing waste problem, Madsen said she is not a proponent of mandatory recycling. She urges improvements such as satellite drop-offs for recyclables and community composting. Both are simple and low-cost solutions that the city can pursue while it works to balance the budget.
Danner's solution of re-using recyclables locally and creating programs to encourage entrepreneurs to invest in small manufacturing facilities that use recycled products are more ambitious proposals that would likely work better when the city itself is more financially secure.
Both candidates have shown their desire to work hard for Juneau's future. Regardless of who wins, that future will be in good hands.