Juneau should set priorities

Letter to the editor

Posted: Monday, October 25, 2004

I love Juneau. I cannot resist daily going to the Juneau Empire web page to read about what is happening there. Many people whom I consider friends live in Juneau, and it was very difficult to leave after more than 20 years of residing there. Hardly a day goes by that my wife or I don't reflect on something from our Juneau past. Fortunately we have only moved to another Alaska community and not outside as we feared we might have to do.

Before I moved to Juneau to work in the 13th Alaska Legislature I lived more than 20 years in bustling Anchorage. My wife and I are now rediscovering all of the many qualities of my "old stomping grounds" and she is thrilled to live here, with so many things to do and dry weather. We have come to recognize that Juneau is its own little Shangri La. Many people there seem to live in a wonderland of political fantasy. By contrast, Alaskans from every community in the state have a view of Juneau based on the fact it is so isolated and state political dogs go there to do their business.

When I tell people I have returned to Anchorage after living in Juneau, they often have something derogatory to say about it. Over the last year I believe we have changed many minds about what Juneau really represents as the state capital and business hub of Southeast Alaska. But the intent of my last letter to the Empire was not to say Anchorage is better than Juneau, so much as to challenge Juneau residents to set priorities for the community by bold initiatives, not on-again off-again mixed signals: a road, a new high school, a new capitol building, a second crossing of Gastineau channel, all come quickly to mind.

It's understood why somebody from Washington might miss that point.

Donn Liston


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