Chugiak Community Council seeking board members

Thursday, October 19, 2017 - 22:12
  • Chugiak’s Elsie Oberg Community Center on Sept. 26, 2017. The Chugiak Community Council meets here at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of most months. (Star photo by Kirsten Swann)
  • A sign outside Chugiak’s Elsie Oberg Community Center on Sept. 26, 2017. The Chugiak Community Council meets here at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of most months. (Star photo by Kirsten Swann)

The Chugiak Community Council reconvened Sept. 21 following a summer hiatus, drawing nearly three dozen locals to a basement room at the Elsie Oberg Community Center.

In the beginning, the room was filled with high school students, representatives from the Chugiak Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department, lawmakers and other residents. For the first hour-and-a-half, the Chugiak council meeting followed a routine agenda filled with updates on everything from public safety to local roads and legislative affairs.

“We have seen a spike in stolen vehicles,” said Anchorage assemblywoman Amy Demboski, a Chugiak resident and member of the Birchwood Community Patrol. “I’ve been on the road in our district for four-and-a-half hours today.”

On Sept. 18, Demboski found a stolen vehicle on the side of a secluded residential road in Chugiak, she said – a discovery she live-streamed on her Facebook page. At the Sept. 21 community council meeting, she urged her neighbors to be vigilant. Crime remains a top concern among her constituents, she said.

Rep. Dan Saddler, (R) District 13, updated council members on criminal justice system reforms scheduled for consideration during an upcoming special session scheduled to begin Oct. 23. Senate Bill 54 would revise last year’s Senate Bill 91, a controversial criminal justice reform measure that’s sparked strong criticism from Alaskans across the state.

“People say this bill is causing crime,” Saddler said. “They’re angry and concerned.”

While Saddler supported the passage of SB91 in 2016, he said he now believes some change is necessary. SB 54 would allow courts to send offenders to jail for first-time class c felonies and repeat theft offenses, according to the office of Alaska Gov. Bill Walker.

Besides the crime bill, Saddler said, the upcoming special session will also tackle a proposed flat wage tax.

“It’s going to be a very messy session,” he said at the Sept. 21 CCC meeting.

By the time the council came to one of the main agenda items of the evening – a special election to replace a long-vacant council seat – the crowd had thinned to fewer than a dozen qualified voters. There were no volunteers for the council seat representing West Peters Creek and Mirror Lake.

“If you know anyone…,” council member Blake Merrifield said to those remaining in the room.

Chugiak Community Council elections are open to people 18 and older who live or own a property or business within the CCC boundaries. With few voters and even fewer candidates, though, the Sept. 21 community council election was rescheduled to the next CCC meeting, set to take place Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. at the Elsie Oberg Community Center at 18606 Old Glenn Highway.

Contact Star reporter Kirsten Swann at kirsten.swann@alaskastar.com

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