Empire Editorial: Anderson remains best choice for District 2 seat

Posted: Friday, October 03, 2003

The two contenders for the District 2 Assembly share many common views but differ greatly in their approach to keeping city government on course.

Dale Anderson is a 54-year old financial consultant seeking a second term on the Assembly. He is also the owner of Anderson Gallery and has served as commissioner of the Alaska Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission. He also served as a legislative assistant on the state House Finance Committee.

Daniel Peterson, 21, is finishing a B.A. in social sciences at UAS and has a small consulting business. He also worked in the capitol building this past spring as an aide to state Rep. Mary Kapsner and is wrapping up a 3-year term on the school board. Both candidates have been involved in a number of community service activities.

Peterson is a bright, highly focused young man deserving of high praise for his active participation in civic affairs.

The candidates share similar views on a number of topics. They both favor a cautious approach in evaluating the risk to the city of making a large financial commitment to the construction of a new capitol building. Both want to see the local economy diversified and new revenue sources developed to fund city government.

Anderson and Peterson would like to see permitting for construction streamlined and more land put online for affordable housing. They are in agreement in support of better healthcare, schools, the golf course and improved access.

The philosophical gulf between the two candidates widens upon examination of their individual perspectives on the role of government and how to grow and diversify the local economy.

Peterson believes that government should be more deeply involved in regulation, including expanded control over the number of bars and closing hours; and rates charged by phone companies, Alaska Airlines and the local electric company, AEL&P.

He believes that the CBJ can raise more revenues by eliminating a number of tax exemptions but only specified the exemption that lobbyists are allowed.

Peterson would work to diversify the economy by attracting more light industry to Juneau.

Peterson favors waterfront development, but wants to spread the impact of tourism over a greater area and lessen the congestion in the South Franklin corridor. He advocates setting a number of limits on cruise ship tourism including limiting the maximum size of ships to 1,500 passengers, imposing a daily total limit of 5,000 passengers in port and an annual cap of 700,000 passengers. He would like to see the larger ships displaced with a greater number of smaller ships.

However, when asked to quantify the revenues that tourism currently generates for the city he could only quantify the $3.8 million generated from the marine passenger fee.

In actuality, in addition to the head tax, the city takes in over $10 million from a variety of other cruise ship fees and receives another $4.5 to $5 million in sales tax revenues from tourism, plus another $1 million hotel and bed and breakfast revenues.

Peterson's sincerity in seeking solutions to ease the impact of tourism is laudable, but he has not thought through the sweeping economic implications of the drastic restrictions he suggests. The size restriction he proposes would force 30 percent of the ships now visiting Juneau to seek other ports.

Anderson has established a reputation as a strong leader on the Assembly and is noted for asking hard questions. His tough questions often bear positive results. He is a fiscal conservative who worked to roll back property taxes in his first year on the Assembly.

He believes that economic diversity and a healthy business climate are necessary to support effective government. He favors less governmental regulation and better accountability to tax payers. He spearheaded the drive to institute a system of missions and measures in city government resulting in much greater accountability.

Under the system, programs and projects approved by the Assembly are subsequently reviewed to insure that the investment is paying off for the people.

When the Assembly couldn't come up with the funds for worthwhile civic projects, Anderson sought other creative sources.

He has supported the arts in this way. He helped to raise private sector funds for Perseverance Theater and Juneau Jazz and Classics when the Assembly couldn't fully meet certain funding requests. He has also worked to raise money for many other non-profit organizations.

He was instrumental in finding matching funds to purchase a 148-acre parcel of private land that is now the centerpiece in the Herbert River parklands.

As the city approaches the limit of its bonding capability, there are a host of expensive public projects looming on the horizon. The list includes long overdue airport improvements, water and wastewater infrastructure improvements, the second crossing, Valley library and recreation center, Egan Drive improvements and waterfront and port development projects to name a few.

The city's budget is now $178 million, and the property owners are going to see tax rates climb significantly in the next four years to pay for the projects now bonded.

Dale Anderson's experience, commitment, accountability, trust-worthiness and deep understanding of city financial matters are assets that will be critically needed on the next the Assembly.

Support Anderson with your vote next Tuesday.

Don Smith



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