Karen Taug, who has lived in Juneau since the mid-1970s, raised a large family here while working full-time and earning a degree in business administration by studying during lunch and taking classes at night.
Now that her six children are grown, she said she wants to give back to her community and was urged by friends and family to run for the District 2 Assembly seat.
She faces incumbent Jonathan Anderson.
Taug said her work experience doing accounting for different companies in the logging, mining and timber industries gives her an inside edge to understand Southeast economies, and the experience with numbers would help her quickly get a handle on the city's $300 million budget.
When asked during a Rotary luncheon last month what elected officials can do in the area of economic development, Taug replied that getting the Kensington Mine open is the priority. She said that more tourism jobs are not the answer, since that business is seasonal in Juneau.
Taug also said the road out of Juneau would help the local economy by providing jobs and reducing shipping costs, so goods could be brought in by trucks.
"With the road open, the ferries could be better utilized going to places where we don't have a road in the Southeast community," she said.
The mine and road projects also would help address Juneau's high cost of living, including the housing crunch, Taug said.
"The wage has not met the cost of living in Juneau," she said. "Open the mine, do the road and increase the salary base. That would help."
Taug offers other ideas to provide better jobs. She said that as an Assembly member, she would support university programs that train professionals to serve Juneau's employers, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration facility and Bartlett Regional Hospital.
Aside from better jobs, Taug said she's not sure how to address affordable housing. She said reducing the amount of "red tape" developers have to get through for approvals might help.
"When we bought our home in 1979, it was on a dirt road and a well," she said. "It was nothing fancy but I could afford it. Why can't we do the same for our kids?"
On the subject of energy, Taug strongly supports the Southeast Alaska Intertie, which would transport some of Juneau's cheap hydroelectricity to smaller towns around the region.
In Southeast, Taug has lived in Skagway, Haines and Port Alexander, and has two sons in Sitka.
"It's a solution for a region," she said of the project. "There's money now, and the city needs to encourage that project as a group by going to the Legislative constituents and urging them to support and fund it.
"If we could do one thing to help them live the way we do here in town, it would do wonders to foster relationships," she added. "They'd have more money then to go to (Juneau) and shop."
Taug said she also would push for more recreation for kids.
"We have the pool coming, but I wish we could do more," she said, suggesting a concession stand at Melvin Park, bowling alley or youth center in the Mendenhall Valley.
Contact reporter Kim Marquis at 523-2279 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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