Empire editorial: Bruce Botelho the right person to steer Juneau

Posted: Friday, October 02, 2009

J uneau is facing the possibility of rough waters ahead, and needs someone at the helm who can steer the city in the right direction. While both mayoral candidates show passion for community service, Mayor Bruce Botelho is still the right person for the job.

Juneau has been fortunate to be operating fairly well financially in contrast to other communities, and is doing so under Botelho's watch. He believes in using a combination of efforts for budgeting such as holding the line, targeted cuts and tax increases on spending. As the city tightens its belt in preparation for a budget shortfall, using all three tactics is the way to go.

Candidate Mark Farmer says he advocates for hiring freezes, early retirement of senior management positions and more property, sales and tourism taxes. We believe finding other sources of income and tightening city spending seems more resourceful than limiting jobs.

Botelho has said his priority for his next term in office would be to build Juneau's Sustainability Fund, which seeks to capitalize on energy conservation projects. In the past, Juneau has embraced energy conservation efforts, and the savings can help build city coffers for future projects.

Farmer also said his focus is on sustainability and environmental responsibility. He also advocates for cleaning up downtown, by hiring more cops and cracking down on public inebriation. While public safety is in everybody's best interest, we don't know that more force is necessarily the best way to deal with a chronic problem.

When it comes to concerns about solid waste management, Botelho has maintained a realistic point of view. The plan for universal curbside recycling needs universal garbage pickup in order for it to work, which Botelho has said he will push for. He said the city's next decision is whether - and under what circumstances - Juneau will pursue incineration of solid waste. This will directly effect any recycling program the city is trying to establish.

Botelho said the city's problem with capital creep is a direct result of the absence of the highest executive in the state, the governor. He said he will work with Parnell to advocate new state infrastructure and jobs in Juneau. He also seeks to establish a commission of prominent, non-Juneau residents to advise on ways to enhance Juneau as a capital city.

Farmer advocates a wide-ranging public affairs offensive showcasing the capital. This isn't a bad idea if it can get everyone involved. The rest of the state really doesn't seem to "know" Juneau, or just what happens in the Capitol during the legislative session. This idea is worth pursuing.

Farmer has exhibited fresh ideas, fresh perspective and has shown persistence. This isn't the first time he's run for office and hopefully it will not be his last. Farmer has some very good ideas, many of which we hope to see come to fruition. The world needs its Mark Farmers, but the jump to mayor is a huge leep considering the economic challenges ahead.

Mayor Bruce Botelho speaks with the voice of experience, something that will benefit Juneau most in the near future. He's served honorably for two terms already and deserves a third.

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