2005 Skagway Municipal Election Forum

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Meet the candidates for Mayor of Skagway. Two are running for a 2-year term: Tim Bourcy and David Brena

MAYOR QUESTIONS
1. Should the city take a different position regarding the Juneau Access project, now that the state has changed the preferred alternative from a Juneau-Skagway road to a Juneau-Katzehin road with shuttle ferries to Haines and Skagway? Or should the city continue supporting an improved marine access alternative? Please explain your position on this issue.

2. Some are suggesting that Skagway’s “quality of life” is being threatened by industrial tourism. Others would say the town is reaping benefits that far outweigh the complaints about crowds, high rents, etc. As mayor, when someone asks you about Skagway’s “quality of life,” how will you respond?

3. Aside from selling off land when it becomes available, how far should the city dive into the housing issue? Should the city work with developers on affordable housing projects on city land, or should the city leave housing to the private sector?

4. Please briefly list your top five city priorities over the next two years?

Tim Bourcy
Age: 42
Occupation: Owner Packer Expeditions & The Mountain Shop
Years in Skagway: 16
Education: Metropolitan State College, Colorado State Univ.
Offices Held: Skagway SAR LT., Planning & Zoning Commissioner, City Council 1 Term, Mayor 2 terms, Vice Chair Southeast Conference of Mayors, District 1 board representative for Alaska Municipal League, 2nd Vice President Alaska Municipal League.
Interests: Hiking, skiing, reading.

BOURCY ANSWERS
1. The community’s position on Juneau Access has been consistent for a number of years. This position has been supported in surveys, Council resolutions, and most recently the referendum vote on the issue. The Katzehin alternative is still involved in the EIS process and lacks the necessary funding for construction. I will continue to work for improved ferry access to Juneau pushing for a consistent, reliable schedule that covers two years. That would allow businesses, visitors and locals to plan, market, and promote the marine highway. In addition, the upper Lynn Canal pays the highest rates in the entire system. I will work to make the tariffs we pay more equitable which will hopefully reduce rates, and also push for a flat family rate.

2. Skagway has an excellent quality of life. We enjoy a robust and vibrant economy that provides excellent job opportunities. We have a school that receives the maximum amount of funding allowed by the state, and receives additional funding for the pre-school, technology, sports, and lunch programs. Our students continually test at a very high level. We have a quality recreation center, excellent youth programs, world class hiking trails, low crime rates, and a population that is involved in all aspects of the community. Is there more we can do? Yes. I have worked very hard on quality of life issues as my record will show, and I am committed to continuing those efforts.

3. Getting land out to the public has been a top priority of mine for a number of years. We are getting our entitlement lands soon and hopefully will be ready for a land sale next fall. I will push for the city to finance land sales as it has done in the past. One method is the 10/10/10/10 approach. This is 10 percent down, 10 percent per
year for 10 years, with 10 percent off for full payment up front. Additionally, the city is presently researching partnering with a developer to develop a higher density housing project on city property off of 17th and State. The hope is that we could create lower income housing opportunities for residents that would like to set roots in this community. We are still in the very early research stages and are looking at communities with similar tourism economies to see how they have addressed this difficult problem.

4. Top Priorities: 1) Completion of sea walk and 2) flood control projects; 3) Land sale; 4) New clinic; 5) Long-term clinic funding.

David Brena
Age: 53
Occupation: Business owner, Real Estate appraiser, broker and consultant.
Years in Skagway: 35
Offices Held: Member of Real Estate delegation to Russia and Lithuania as Citizen Ambassador selected by the Russian State Management Committee and Lithuanian Ministry of Finance to provide real estate, construction, and finance expertise in transfer from state to private ownership; Chairman of enginemen - United Transportation Union, Local 1787; Director, Chamber of Commerce
Education: Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) with a concentration in Real Estate and Construction Management.
Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in Finance; Member of the Appraisal Institute (MAI, SRA), considered equivalent to a PhD in Real Estate Valuation and Consulting; Licensed Real Estate broker with the CCIM designation of commercial investment education.
Interests, Hobbies: Helping solve Skagway’s housing crisis, boating and hiking.

BRENA ANSWERS
1. The preferred alternative is now to build a road to Katzehin. This seems like a good option that will reduce travel time and expense for travelers without disrupting the area classified as 4(f). The question to support improved marine access is easy to support but the city has no direct control over this option.

2. I think the quality of life in Skagway is quite high. It would be nice if we were more seasonally balanced but this is not easily attained. Skagway (as with anywhere) is not for everyone but many people enjoy working a busy season followed by slow season.

3. Land does not just become available. The city needs to take a proactive stand on increasing the housing stock. This problem is at a crisis level and it has been many years in the making. The city should avoid becoming directly involved in development and ownership of houses, townhomes, and/or condominiums. This type of development can best be provided by the private sector. This city could allow higher density or zero lot line type housing to be developed on land that is provided and possibly look at encouraging development by offering tax incentives. Finally the Mahle Land lawsuit should be settled if possible, thereby opening up private housing on AB Mountain.

4. 1) Improve the supply of housing; 2) Reduce the city’s involvement in litigation; 3) Lower taxes. This will be accomplished by increasing the tax base, reducing unnecessary capital spending, reducing litigation and ensuring better contract administration; 4) Improve our working relationship with the State of Alaska. I don’t view the state as our adversary. 5) Strive to create a friendlier environment at City Hall.

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Two candidates are running for a single 1-year seat on the Skagway City Council: Lisa “LC” Cassidy and Kathy Hosford

CITY COUNCIL QUESTIONS
1. Should the city take a different position regarding the Juneau Access project, now that the state has changed the preferred alternative from a Juneau-Skagway road to a Juneau-Katzehin road with shuttle ferries to Haines and Skagway? Or should the city continue supporting an improved marine access alternative? Please explain your position on this issue.

2. At some point during your term, because of your job, you may face a potential conflict of interest situation before a vote. Get it out on the table now. In what situations can the public expect you to step aside and sit out discussion or a vote?

3. Aside from selling off land when it becomes available, how far should the city dive into the housing issue? Should the city work with developers on affordable housing projects on city land, or should the city leave housing to the private sector?

4. Please briefly list your top five city priorities over the next two years?

Lisa A. (LC) Cassidy
Age: 37
Occupation: Fine woodworker, tour guide
Years in Skagway: 15 years
Education: BA Political Science/Minor in Art History and Environmental Science-University of New Hampshire
Offices held: Skagway Volunteer Fire Department, Search and Rescue, Planning and Zoning Commissioner, Chair of Skagway’s Coastal Management Program Rewrite Committee.
Interests, Hobbies: Wilderness adventures, cooking and gardening

CASSIDY ANSWERS
1. If alternative 2B is chosen and is able to be funded, we must consider the time frame for completion; (five years?, 10 years?). Regardless of any road alternative, Skagway must continue, as the voter mandate has indicated, to push for an improved marine access with increased ferry service to Skagway and price reduction. Historically, and still today, the marine highway is our lifeline. We must keep this open.

2. At this time , I do not see a potential conflict of interest in my current business and employment. If one should ever arise, I would recuse myself. Volunteering for this position means I have a responsibility to the city and all the people in it to remain fair and impartial.

3. I do not believe the city should be in the real estate business as a landlord. I do favor to continue the current discussion on making city land available to the private sector and carefully crafting a plan that will encourage the private sector to develop affordable housing. Increased housing is one of the major goals yet to be fully achieved in Skagway’s Comprehensive Plan of 1999. We should see this goal to its fruition.

4. 1) Pursue a fiscally responsible ethic; 2) Work towards providing safe, affordable housing and land availability for Skagway residents; 3) Push for a sustainable and affordable medical facility and services; 4) Maintain the current level of city maintenance and infrastructure; 5) Encourage the public to access available information and participate in the city government process.

Kathleen (Kathy) K. Hosford
Age: 48
Occupation: Owner/ operator, Chilkoot Trail Outpost, operating engineer.
Years in Skagway: Depending on economics, since 1974.
Education: Petersburg High School 12; University of Alaska Southeast, 1; University of Alaska Fairbanks 2; various training and achievement certifications.
Offices Held: Current, Vice President and Transportation Chair, Skagway Chamber of Commerce; Alaska State Chamber of Commerce Board; Southeast Conference of Chambers Board; Southeast Conference Transportation Board; Dyea Advisory Board; Alaska Travel Industry Association member.
Interests, Hobbies: Community service - lobbying at state and federal levels, design/building, travel with family.

HOSFORD ANSWERS
1. The City Council has historically changed its reasons for a position numerous times to best fit the situation at hand. Because of unmanageable circumstances that may change the logic of our needs, we should be open to supporting what is in the best interest of Skagway and its future.

2. Depending at what level of involvement one would consider conflict of interest. I am in the seasonal lodging business primarily serving tourists. One situation that I would consider a possible direct conflict may be a bed tax issue that supports our Visitors Bureau, however, I would not step aside when addressing the tourism industry as a whole.

3. The city has expanded itself in the past six years in areas that I believe to be in direct conflict with private enterprise and should refrain from further liability. The burdens of select projects become the responsibility of the residents and its taxpayers. To implement and manage such a project as a municipal agency in a fair and equal application would be next to impossible. It is imperative that we better manage the lands that we have and to gain control of our escalating property values.

4. 1) The city needs to take a serious look the long-term effects of its recent policies and actions. We have seen a dramatic change with the continued increase of visitors in the summer while our winter resident population decreases. We can find a healthier balance for Skagway’s future. 2) It’s time the city realizes the gross neglect of our residents’ final resting grounds. We must make an aggressive effort to improve and groom our local cemeteries. The city has done an amazing job beautifying downtown for the summer visitors and upgraded facilities, similar respect should be shown for our departed family and friends. 3) Expedite city land entitlement and get it into the private sector. This is one area where the city can help to give our residents a healthy start at entry level without going into the housing business. 4) Foster a more diverse economy to provide good jobs year round. 5) Enhance public awareness and participation in city business. I would like to see meetings broadcast on public radio.

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Three candidates are running for two 3-year seats on the Skagway City Council: Bert Bounds, Michael Catsi and Craig Jennison

COUNCIL QUESTIONS
1. Should the city take a different position regarding the Juneau Access project, now that the state has changed the preferred alternative from a Juneau-Skagway road to a Juneau-Katzehin road with shuttle ferries to Haines and Skagway? Or should the city continue supporting an improved marine access alternative? Please explain your position on this issue.

2. At some point during your term, because of your job, you may face a potential conflict of interest situation before a vote. Get it out on the table now. In what situations can the public expect you to step aside and sit out discussion or a vote?

3. Aside from selling off land when it becomes available, how far should the city dive into the housing issue? Should the city work with developers on affordable housing projects on city land, or should the city leave housing to the private sector?

4. Please briefly list your top five city priorities over the next two years?

Bert Bounds
Age: 64
Occupation: Electrical contractor
Years in Skagway: 16
Education: Master electrician, 38 years
Offices Held: City of Huron (SD) Electrical Bd., Skagway City Procurement Committee, Eagles Building Committee, Lake Byron (SD) Water Association elected member.
Interests, Hobbies: Alternate energy, genealogy, traveling.

BOUNDS ANSWERS
1. Not enough information to make an intelligent decision.

2. The city should adopt an ethics code using portions of the state’s code, such as:
Misuse of Official Position: (a) A pubic officer may not use, or attempt to use, an official position for personal gain, and my not intentionally secure or grant unwarranted benefits or treatment for any person; (b) A public officer may not (1) seek other employment or contracts through the use or attempted use of official position, (4) take or withhold official action in order to affect a matter in which the public officer has a personal or financial interest.
Improper Use or Disclosure of Information: A current or former public officer may not disclose or use information gained in the course of, or by reason of, the officer’s official duties that could in any way result in the receipt of any benefit for the officer or an immediate family member, if the information has not also been disseminated to the public. (a) A current or former public officer man not disclose or use, without appropriate authorization, information acquired in the course of official duties that is confidential by law.
Improper Representation: (a) A public officer may not represent, advise, or assist a person in any matter pending before the administrative unit that the officer serves, if the representation, advice, or assistance is (1) for compensation, unless the representation, advice, assistance, and compensation are required by statute, regulation, or court rule, or is otherwise customary; or (2) without compensation, but rendered to benefit a personal or financial interest of the public officer.

3. Selling city land is a good idea. I disagree with the city competing with private business. A few reasons why the city partnering with a developer would not work are: 1. This would create one or two city positions costing the taxpayers approximately $100,000 or more; 2) The cost to build would be 50 percent higher, causing high rents. 3) No matter who was chosen to be the contractor, it would once again raise the question, “was it a fair playing field?.” However, I would support the city providing tax breaks for a developer who would build affordable housing.

4. 1) Lower taxes; 2) Sell city-owned property; 3) Build a new clinic building; 4) Ensure that existing city funds are not misspent; 5) Eliminate the sales tax on groceries.

Michael Catsi
Age: 44
Occupation: Economic Development
Years in Skagway: 15 years
Education: Bachelor of Science
Offices Held: Current Councilmember, current Co-Chair AML Committee on Landuse, Resources and Economic Development, member Steering Committee of the AML Legislative Committee
Interests/Hobbies: Running, outdoor activities, and travel

CATSI ANSWERS
1. DOT’s choice of Alternative 2B is not a popular compromise for either the pro-road or the pro-marine transportation supporters. This alternative will favor Haines and may result in a loss of traffic for Skagway. By continuing to demand enhanced ferry service we will be better served as a community. The new proposed ferry schedules will give us up to six ferries per week in the winter, eight in the spring, and up to 10 ferries during the summer. This is the service we have been asking for, therefore we should be supporting these proposed schedules and the proposed fare reductions as the most prudent and feasible option for Juneau Access.

2. During my term I have asked the Council on six different occasions to be excused from discussion and voting on issues in which I have had a financial interest. On three occasions the discussion revolved around funding for SDC for which I am an employee. The other three times were when Council was voting to disburse these same checks. I have always been open and upfront about my financial interests and I will continue this level of integrity into my next term.
3. The city should defer to the private sector for housing development. In this case the city may need to ask why the private sector has not stepped in and developed housing to meet demand. There are many examples of private-public partnerships for housing development around the nation, especially for affordable housing. It would be prudent for the city to study some of these to determine if there are ways and means at its disposal to facilitate the development of more housing, preferably by the private sector.

4. My priorities for the next three years include: 1) Completing the design phase and securing the funding necessary to build a top quality health care facility that this community needs and deserves; 2) Continuing to work with the state to gain patent to our entitlement lands and to move quickly in making that land available for development; 3) Finding sustainable solutions to increasing property tax burdens due to continuing increases in PERS/TRS, worker’s compensation, health care costs, and insurance; 4) Although it doesn’t get a lot press these days finalizing our Borough status is still important for our community if we want to maintain our independence and freedom; 5) Addressing quality of life issues including increased year round economic opportunities.

Craig Jennison
Age: 34
Occupation: Tour manager, TEMSCO Helicopters
Years in Skagway: 10
Education: Ongoing!
Offices Held: Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, vice president; Planning and Zoning Commission, vice chair; Alaska Travel Industry Association, Skagway chapter vice president.
Interests, Hobbies: Outdoor enthusiast: skiing, hiking, fishing, bird watching.

JENNISON ANSWERS
1. The vote last October showed a clear mandate from the citizens of Skagway that the city should support improved ferry service. The introduction of the Katzehin alternative creates new issues for Skagway. The draft Environmental Impact Statement has not evaluated the cost of traveling from Katzehin to Juneau for people without vehicles. The people of Skagway need to know what alternatives will be available for walk-ons and the associated costs for travel from the Katzehin ferry terminal to Juneau. Now more than ever, I believe the city should continue voicing their concerns and asking the questions which will help evaluate the true economic impact the Katzehin alternative will have on our community and its citizens.

2. Although I am employed by TEMSCO, I am running for council as a citizen of Skagway and the well-being of Skagway will always be my priority. If, however, something directly involving my employer were to come in front of the Council I would, without hesitation, recuse myself from discussion and/or vote.

3. The lack of housing has reached a crisis level and I don’t think that the city should leave any options unexplored. However, I also do not believe the city should become a landlord. It is appropriate for the city to play a supporting role in finding innovative solutions to alleviate the crisis. This can be in the form of tax incentives for appropriate development, relaxation of city codes when suitable, and other efforts to facilitate responsible and affordable development.

4. 1) Opening up for sale available city land for residential use; 2) Completion of the new medical clinic; 3) Completion of the flood control project; 4) Development of a comprehensive plan for responsible management of the impacts the seasonal visitor industry has on our community; 5) Preserving the spirit of the Skagway community.

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One candidate is running for a single 3-year seat on the Skagway City School Board: Julene Fairbanks

SCHOOL BOARD QUESTIONS
1. Examining ways to increase enrollment was a board goal last year. What can be done to maintain enrollment over the crucial 100-student funding level or boost it to levels of 10-20 years ago?

2. The district has been the recipient of grant money to hire additional staff and acquire sophisticated foreign language and physical education equipment. But these grants will run out in a few years. What’s your plan for keeping students using this equipment after the grants run dry?

3. Please briefly list your top five priorities for the school district over the next three years?

Julene Fairbanks
Age: 44
Education: H. S. Diploma, Skagway City School; B. A. English, U. of Montana
Occupation: Librarian
Years in Skagway: 44
Offices Held: School Board Treasurer, Skagway Child Care Council Treasurer, Eagle’s Auxiliary Secretary
Interests, Hobbies: My children; reading; exploring the Skagway area and other parts of the world by foot, boat, bike or ski

FAIRBANKS ANSWERS
1. Well, I must say that families hosting foreign exchange students who attend our school has helped our enrollment immensely this year and last. That should not be the reason for participating in an exchange program, but it really is helping our student count. We have an excellent school. Our students score well on standardized tests, we don’t have discipline issues, our school is a good reason for families to make Skagway their home, so, we need to get that word out. And, we need to be supportive of the City Council’s efforts to make it feasible for families to obtain affordable year-round housing as well as encouraging year-round businesses so it is economically possible for families to stay the school year.

2. I’m very excited about the potential for enhancing all our classes through use of this equipment. All of the teachers are receiving training on using the equipment received through the grants and there’s such a wide variety of potential uses: virtual tours of historic sites or museums, students taking Advanced Placement classes, teachers receiving training in their field, even community members taking college courses delivered with the video conferencing equipment. The physical ed. equipment can be used in regular PE instruction classes and used for community classes. We want to be able continue these programs currently funded by grants, especially the Spanish. Perhaps our Spanish teacher will become the teacher for several small districts who can’t afford a full-time language teacher (the position we used to be in) and those districts will purchase the necessary equipment to video conference our class to their students and pay a portion of our teacher’s salary.

3. 1) Increasing enrollment; 2) re-instating music/performing arts classes; 3) continuation of programs currently funded through grants; 4) maintaining academic excellence for staff and students; 5) promoting pride in our school by students and the community.