Botelho wins mayor's race

Mayor from '88-'91 edges out Knapp

Posted: Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Bruce Botelho is back.

He defeated opponent Dick Knapp for Juneau mayor with an unofficial vote tally of 4,436 to 3,821 in Tuesday's city election.

Botelho, who was mayor from 1988 to 1991, will take office Oct. 27. He will succeed Mayor Sally Smith, who did not seek re-election.

"I feel humbled and honored to serve Juneau again as mayor," Botelho told the crowd gathered at election central at Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School.

Botelho, president of the Southeast Alaska Council Boy Scouts of America, arrived in his scouting uniform to warm congratulations by supporters who had gathered at Dzantik'i Heeni. He was presented with a birthday cake, illuminated with candles to celebrate his 55th birthday on Oct. 6.

Botelho, who is chairman of Troop 11, came straight to election central from a meeting in which the scouts were working on a merit badge for citizenship in the nation.

"They (Boy Scouts) all wanted to dash over here and see the results," he said.

The Juneau native was a member of the city Assembly from 1983 to 1986. He has also served on the Alaska Permanent Fund Board of Trustees, the Alaska Resource Commission, the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council and Juneau Human Rights Commission.

Knapp congratulated Botelho on his win.

"I saw this as a window of opportunity to get some things done," Knapp said afterward. "You tell people where you stand and people make a choice."

Knapp ran his campaign as a pro-business advocate who wanted to generate revenue through light manufacturing and increased property rolls.

Knapp has never been elected to public office. He does not plan to run for public office again, he said.

Botelho ran his campaign pushing hard for a new state Capitol building without losing the capital's presence in Juneau. The new Capitol is a top priority, Botelho said Tuesday night.

Botelho, of Douglas, described the Capitol plan as a "long-term" project and not one that he expects to come to fruition soon. Nevertheless, he plans to get the process started by talking to the Murkowski administration about creating legislative strategy to make the new building a reality.

Knapp thinks the capital move is too risky at a time when the city and state face budget shortfalls. Botelho's proposal is to build a new Capitol building using revenue bonds through a long-term lease with the state. Lease payments would pay off the bonds. Juneau would not be adding to its general obligation bonds, which are nearing a ceiling.

State law requires legislative approval of the lease if it exceeds $1 million annually, and Botelho expects it would. His plan is to ensure enough legislative votes are in place to approve the lease - without moving the capital from Juneau - before he moves ahead with the plan.

As Juneau faces a deficit in 2004, he said that he plans to review the community development and engineering departments. Specifically, Botelho wants city officials to determine whether the community development office is "adequately" promoting the economy in Juneau, he said. He plans to go through the traditional budget review process. Officials will make final decisions at that time.

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