2003 SKAGWAY MUNICIPAL ELECTION FORUM

City Hall Polls Open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 7

A Look at the Races
• Mayor Tim Bourcy is running unopposed for a second 2-year term.

• City Council members J. M. Frey and Dave Hunz are running unopposed for two 3-year seats on the City Council.

• No one filed to run for the 2-year seat on the Council, but Beth Cline announced her write-in candidacy in time for this Election Forum issue.

• All three School Board candidates have filed for their current seats on the Board. Darren Belisle and Chris Maggio have filed for two 3-year seats. Joanne Korsmo has filed for the 1-year seat.

No other write-ins had announced as of Sept. 24th. Good luck to all!

Mayoral Questions

1) How well has the present state executive branch worked with Skagway in resolving some unsettled problems, like the borough petition and the disaster money for the Dyea flood? Are you satisfied with the direction Juneau Access is taking?

2) The cruise ships are getting bigger and bigger, and White Pass is talking about expanding the Railroad Dock further into Taiya Inlet. How is this affecting the people of Skagway and their quality of life? Is it affecting the quality of a tourist’s visit here? What can be done to preserve both?

3) There has been a lot of criticism among locals about the Police Department this year. Chief Spurrier has said he would retire in 2004. Will there be an opportunity for the community to weigh in on the hiring of the next chief?

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

TIM BOURCY
Candidate for Mayor
2-year term
Age: 40
Occupation: Owner Packer Expeditions & Mountain Shop
Years in Skagway: 14
Offices Held: S.A.R. Lieutenant, Planning & Zoning Commission, City Council, Mayor
Interests,Hobbies: Skiing, hiking, family

1. A. Our borough petition is a work in progress. Presently we have an unsigned settlement offer for our appeal that will get us back to the Boundary Commission without prejudice. The governor’s office has been very helpful. The problem has been, and continues to be Dan Bockhorst and Gene Cane with DCED.
B. Disaster money for Dyea. All I can say is “show me the money.”
C. Juneau access in the form of a road is a priority of the new administration. Presently they are in the process of completing the E.I.S. on the proposed project. My major concerns: with the federal deficit spiraling upward rapidly, where will money to construct come from? How will the state maintain the road when it has a $1 billion fiscal gap, has not maintained its existing infrastructure, and may have to return money to the feds on 50 road projects that have yet to be completed. What effect will the road have on anchor businesses in Skagway such as the Hardware Store, Skagway Air, Fairway Market, AML, and Petro Marine (to name a few)? We have the finest port facility in Alaska, and are the shipping terminus for freight, fuel and ore in and out of the Yukon. How will the road affect our port, and will cruise ship patterns change as a result? While the debate for or against the road continues, the immediate need is for improved access in our existing ferry system. I will continue to fight for these improvements.

2. The cruise industry is growing and Skagway has been part of this growth. Positive vs. negative: positive impacts include a vibrant economy with good job opportunities, thriving construction industry that provides year-round employment, and one of the lower mill rates in the state. This enables us to provide a high level of services, maximum school funding, debt service, police, fire, day care/teen center, and quality recreation. The negative impacts are congestion, traffic and increased crime. Visitor surveys still rank Skagway as a favorite destination. Projects such as the Gateway project and the seawall/seawalk are ways we are working to improve the experience for both visitors and locals.

3. There really is no formal process that allows the community to weigh in on hiring. There will be a hiring committee that interviews prospective applicants for the chief position. As mayor I will appoint one person from the community to this committee. They will make a recommendation to the city manager, who ultimately will make the decision.

4. Top five priorities (in no specific order): borough formation, AB Mountain development, seawall/seawalk, new clinic, state fiscal gap.

City Council Questions

1. With the continuing loss of green space in the downtown area, do you think the city should purchase some key lots to maintain a greenbelt, such as the Pullen House tract, or require those who clear lots to plant trees?

2. The City has been hit with more legal action in the past three years than in the past 20. Along with this, council members have been called to task about alleged conflict of interest numerous times. How will you balance personal agendas with the needs of the city and its citizens?

3. A statewide sales tax failed passage in the Legislature last session, but it will likely come up again this year. How does the city intend to fight this threat as the tax the state collects could raise Skagway’s total sales tax to 7 percent, and no guarantee of seeing that money come back?

4. Please list the top five city priorities over the next three years?

J.M. FREY
Council Candidate, 3-year seat
Age: 62
Occupation: Electrician
Years in Skagway: 45
Offices Held: City Council
Interests, Hobbies: Hunting, fishing, hiking

1. I do not favor purchasing private property for a green belt and removing that property from the tax rolls. Planting of trees should be encouraged, but not required.

2. In a small city, everyone elected will have a conflict of interest at one time or another due to employment and business. Try to do what is best for Skagway and not a personal agenda.

3. Lobby state elected officials.

4. Flood control, new clinic building, harbor seawall, finish sidewalks on Alaska and Main streets, and ferry terminal to First Avenue’s east-side sidewalk.

DAVID. M. HUNZ
Council Candidate, 3-year seat
Age: 50
Occupation: Locomotive engineer, owner of Hunz & Hunz Enterprises
Years in Skagway: 44
Offices Held: Two, three-year terms on the Skagway City Council
Interests, Hobbies: Fishing, boating

1. Being surrounded on three sides by mountains with trees I don’t think the city should purchase lots to maintain a greenbelt or require those who develop lots to plant trees.

2. If elected as in the past I will vote for what is in the best interest for the City of Skagway. If there is a conflict of interest I will be abstaining from discussion and voting on that issue.

3. I am totally opposed to a statewide sales tax. I don’t believe that is a fair tax, the higher cost of fuel, utilities, groceries, etc. In outlying communities it means they will pay more taxes on the same items than someone else in another part of the state. I would also like to point out that Skagway’s sales tax is paying the state’s portion of the new pedestrian bridge. We need to convey to our state representatives and to all the legislators that this is not a fair way to tax the citizens of this state.

4. Top priorities:
A. Flood control: We need this to protect ourselves when the 100-year flood event happens, without this we would be devastated.
B. Health care: Continue to support whatever is necessary to see that Skagway has good health care providers and facilities.
C. Sea wall/sea walk project: Continue to see this project to completion.
D. City to take over the small boat harbor from the state.
E. Survey of municipality-selected land from the state so that we may acquire clear title and then to dispose of the land.

BETH CLINE
Council Candidate, 2-year seat
(declared write-in)
AGE: 36
Occupation: Director of Passenger Sales and Services, White Pass & Yukon Route
Years in Skagway: 13
Offices Held: Skagway Medical Clinic Board, Vice President Alaska Travel Industry Association local chapter
Interests, Hobbies: Spinning instructor at Recreation Center, theater, skiing

1. The continued beautification of our city is an important priority. With over 700,000 visitors a summer, I support the idea of having areas of our city that are reserved for retreat and for the enjoyment of locals as well as visitors. Whether this means a green beltway or a program similar to the Mountain Ash donation at the south end of Broadway, I believe this would be a nice balance to the commercial growth that has steadily increased every year.

2. Everyone should be concerned about the lawsuits against the City because this is time and money that could be directed toward City projects. I think because the City has experienced an increase of lawsuits that we have, as a community, become more conscientious. It is the job of the City Council to recognize that they are the voice of the community and are here to protect all interests. By continuing to encourage the participation and involvement from the community to work together we can possibly avoid future legal action.
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3. The current City Council has done an excellent job establishing solid working relationships with our state representatives. Two of our councilmen hold seats with the Alaska Municipal League, which was an integral part in the failure of the sales tax the first time around. By being proactive and utilizing our city lobbyist, Skagway’s voice will be heard regarding a statewide tax and its would-be effects on our city. As a Council we must continue to be proactive on this issue to avoid sales taxation.

4. Priorities:
A. Fighting for our Borough status
B. Continued focus on land use planning for city land in Dyea and development of AB Mental Health land.
C. Supporting the development of the Clinic, Senior Center and Recreation Center
D. Expansion of the small boat harbor and construction of the seawall and sea walk
E. Broadway congestion

Skagway School Board Questions

1) Several of you are parents and have children in the school – have you been personally satisfied with the school staff and administration and their responses to your concerns? When problems do occur, are the proper channels being followed?

2) Skagway test scores remain above the state average and the school has met federal No Child Left Behind standards. On the other hand, enrollment is down, due in part to some families home schooling their children, and others leaving the district to expose their kids to more opportunities. What can be done to curb this trend and keep students in school here?

3) In the last few years, we’ve noticed fewer people at school functions. What can be done to stir more community involvement in the school, a one-time mecca of winter activity?

4) Please list your top five priorities for the coming three years.

DARREN BELISLE
School Board Candidate,
3-year seat
Age: 37
Occupation: Alaska Power And Telephone
Years in Skagway: 11
Offices held: Currently vice-president of the School Board
Interests / hobbies: Honey-do’s, fishing, and softball

1. Over the last few years things are greatly improving here. For the most part the proper channels are starting to get used, people are starting to become aware of what they need to do, and the administration is easier to talk to.

2. There are several new programs starting to go forward at the school under the new administration that have everyone excited, hopefully they have a ripple effect to include the families that are choosing to home school and we will start seeing those faces in school once again.

3. That’s the million-dollar question that is currently being worked on, if anyone has a solution or part of a solution please feel free to contact a board member or the school.

4. A. To try to find ways to increase the student population
B. To see an increase in community participation in school events and programs
C. To see that our students continue to excel on the national testing scores as well as their own academics here in Skagway and wherever the choose to go on to in life.
D. To look for alternative funding in the form of grants for our school so we are not such a burden to the city.
E. To try to get better communications with everyone, to get the students to find and use their voice.

CHRIS MAGGIO
School Board Candidate,
3-year seat
AGE: 54
OCCUPATION: Pilot
YEARS IN SKAGWAY: 12
OFFICES HELD: School Board
INTERESTS, HOBBIES: Metal and wood fabrication, art

1. I do not wish to respond to this since I am not a parent.

2. School enrollment is down only in part to the reasons stated in this question. Next year our enrollment will recover again with more pre-schoolers coming into the ranks of elementary education.
I have no qualms with home schooling – my hat is off to those parent who can give their children a solid education in the home environment. Parents who want their kids exposed to more opportunities might want to look a little closer at the direction the school is heading. There have been significant positive changes in the Skagway City School in the last year due to the way it is being managed.

3. Because of my short time on the board I’m not aware of fewer people attending school functions. I have noticed a wonderful and consistent turnout to sports events and school plays.
I would like to see more parents and community members attending school board meetings – at least three meetings a school year. It does concern me that, in my tenure as a board member, I’ve seen almost no City Council members attending school board meetings.
We have a wonderful program of education in place for our students – come and listen and see how it all works!

4. Priorities and goals:
A. Vocational education with an emphasis on industrial arts (wood shop, metal shop, auto shop, art, technology) and the hatchery program.
B. Study skills and the hiring of a school librarian.
C. To garner more public support and participation in our school.
D. To up the quality of administration and staffing we now have.

JOANNE KORSMO
School Board Candidate,
1-year seat
AGE: 45
OCCUPATION: Station manager, Wings of Alaska
YEARS IN SKAGWAY: 19
OFFICES HELD: Presently, member at-large, School Board; secretary, Library Board. Previously, president, Skagway Child Care Council
INTERESTS, HOBBIES: Hiking, cross-country skiing, theater arts

1. My children are on both sides of the building. I have felt very comfortable seeking out a teacher for any concerns I might have. If anything, I feel my participation could improve and I’m addressing that now.

2. One important point to remember is that enrollment is down all over Southeast Alaska. Skagway also deals with a seasonal-based economy causing a crunch on housing prospects for new and existing families. Some possible solutions: opening up affordable land and keep striving for excellence in the classroom. Already in place is an ever-evolving recreation center and a year-round and seasonal daycare facilities, teen center, and also a good health care facility. All these components help to promote a desirable community to live in. I know of three kids who left for a time to experience school elsewhere and returned with a better appreciation of Skagway School.

3. I haven’t noticed this occurrence. I see parents comprising the majority of the crowd in all extra curricular activities. We just returned from a two-day soccer tournament in Whitehorse sponsored by Community Ed. Every child participating had at least one parent watching. Even when the weather changed dramatically to blowing rain and near freezing temp, no one budged. I’m very proud of the support our kids receive.

4. I would like to see Spanish introduced into the curriculum starting at the elementary level, stay on top of all necessary capital improvements facing the school, look for ways to improve enrollment, support the new and exciting technology plan and, finally, strive for improved communication and development of long-term goals between school board and city government to provide efficient quality education.

Do Your Democratic Duty – Vote October 7th!