My Turn: How 'great' have the last 8 years been?

Posted: Thursday, October 24, 2002

If you are like most voters, you are not registered with either of Alaska's major political parties but identify yourself as "non-partisan" or "undeclared." It would follow, then, that the way you vote is determined less by ideology than by your view of candidates and your personal stake in the election.

The reasons I think you should consider voting for Frank Murkowski have little to do with ideology but everything to do with Juneau and our individual investments in this community. My primary investments in Juneau are my three children and my home.

In 1994, while working on the Alaska Committee to help defeat that year's capital move initiative, a former Juneau mayor told me that he was voting for Knowles/Ulmer because, "It will be great for Juneau if Fran is on the third floor." Before we automatically promote Fran from the No. 2 spot to the big house on Calhoun, I think it's fair to look back on the past eight years and evaluate just how "great" her team has been for Juneau.

• Having up to half of the governor's commissioners and their top staff live outside of the capital city hasn't exactly been "great" for Juneau. Where was Fran when these key positions moved north?

• Over the past several years, front-page articles have documented "capital creep," or the erosion of state jobs from Juneau. Fran's administration, not the Legislature, transferred those jobs. Has this been "great" for Juneau?

• In 1994, Juneau spent over $1 million to defeat a capital move effort. The main issue was access. Since 1994, the Alaska Committee has lobbied Knowles-Ulmer for road access - to no avail. Instead, in 2000, the governor vetoed funds to complete the Juneau Access EIS. After eight years of inaction on road access, Juneau is again fighting a million-dollar move battle, this time to relocate the Legislature to the Mat-Su Borough. This is hardly "great" for Juneau.

• According to the Juneau Economic Development Council, Juneau lags behind the U.S. and Alaska in indicators such as long-term per capita income growth and change in average wages. Driving around town, it's hard not to notice dozens of "For Sale" signs mixed among the campaign signs. Currently, Juneau has a four-year inventory of high-end homes on the market. Without a healthy, growing economy, the value of our homes and property will stagnate and eventually decline. This is "great" for Juneau?

The Knowles-Ulmer team has had eight years to make Alaska a "great place to live, work and raise a family." By any objective standard, Juneau has not thrived under this administration and our future as capital is less secure than ever before. A vote for Ulmer simply extends the economic malaise, uncertainty and insecurity.

A vote for Frank Murkowski forces healthy change on a political and economic climate that desperately needs revitalization. Frank Murkowski will work productively with the president, our congressional delegation and the Alaska Legislature to create jobs and restore economic vitality to our communities.

My kids tell me that when they finish college, they'd like to live in Juneau. For them to do that, they'll have to find gainful employment here. That can't happen unless the state's economic situation turns around. And in Juneau, unless progress is made on road access - something Frank Murkowski is committed to achieving - the emotional and financial drain of capital move battles will never end.

If you are serious about making Alaska a great place to "live, work and raise a family," the best thing you can do to make that dream a reality is to vote for Frank Murkowski on Nov. 5.

Paulette Simpson has lived in Juneau for 26 years and is a volunteer for the Murkowski for Governor campaign.

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