Mayoral candidate speak at Chugiak Community Council
The Chugiak Community Council hosted a forum of Anchorage mayoral candidates on March 15. The candidates included Rebecca Logan, Tim Huitt, Paul Kendall, Matthew Mendonsa and Dustin Darden. Current Mayor Ethan Berkowitz cited previous commitments for not attending.
The candidates answered questions by the council and those in attendance on various issues.
An accomplished businesswoman with experience in the food and oil industry, Logan emphasized that her skill in leading businesses uniquely qualifies her to be mayor. She is currently the only candidate endorsed by the Republican Party.
Logan stated that 30 more sworn officers are required for APD to work at optimum effectiveness and that revitalization of downtown is impossible without enforcing laws already on the books. She pointed out that the current mayor’s attempt at constructing lower income housing in downtown will not revitalize the area. For education, she stated that more of Anchorage School District’s resources need to be the classroom.
Logan said, “It’s important to have a person who has a very clear understanding about what the role of government is. I do.”
Libertarian Tim Huitt wants limited government, less intrusive taxes, more crime prevention and for Anchorage’s mayor to be more of a spiritual leader.
Huitt does not believe that APD needs more officers as much as they need to redeploy their current officers more strategically. For the homeless, he believes emphasizing the need for them to find work is a good strategy, in conjunction with treatment programs. On education, he would put a greater emphasis on teaching core subjects and would empower teachers more.
Huitt argued that he is a minimalist and, “It’s that minimalist theory that’s going to bring this (government) into line. That is how I run my life and that is how I would run this government.”
Paul Kendall believes that complex issues face Anchorage and residents’ best interests have not been represented in Juneau. While other candidates discussed higher crime rates, homelessness and revitalization, Kendall focused on what he called the cause of these problems, which are corrupt politicians in Juneau.
Kendall stated that education is currently being misused by current representatives as a means to make more money without heed for students’ education.
Kendall said, “I’m a simple man. I’m not the best of men or the worst of men; I’m not the least or the most,” stating that if he wins, he would put a camera in his office to increase transparency.
Mendonsa is running as a “commonsense conservative” who wants to help the homeless in Anchorage and if elected will accept only $12,000 for a salary, using the rest of the money as a resource for the city.
Mendonsa believes the level of APD staff are at a good level but that their hands are tied with the criminal justice reform bill passed in 2016 known as SB 91. For the homeless, he would like to construct a big building with heating where the homeless could go long-term.
Mendonsa said he would look into how the money is being spent in ASD and cut the areas that were not vital.
“I know how to deal with people and I deal with a firm hand,” Mendonsa said, going on to state that he believes Logan was the most qualified candidate at the forum.
Darden believes we live in complex times that require not only someone who can protect citizens’ rights but who also understands the role that God and the Bible play in government. Darden had no stance on APD staffing, the homeless or revitalization for downtown.
Darden said, “A lot of the stuff we deal with, like Proposition 1, most people don’t even know what the thing’s about because they (government) want to portray and constrict people to vote for this or that. What I’d do is be clear, transparent and trustworthy.”
Resident concerned with development
Lillian Mercer, a resident of Chugiak, spoke about a notice she received from Troy Davis Homes, which is developing rental units on the land across the street in her neighborhood. She received a notice from the developer about its intentions to meet with council to discuss its project in Mercer’s neighborhood.
Mercer intended to attend and argue that developing the lot as a commercial enterprise violates the property’s restrictions. However, the date on the notice was incorrect and deprived her opportunity to voice her concerns in a public forum. The council retracted their previous support for the project until due process has been followed.
The council’s next meeting will be April 19 at the Elsie Oberg Community Center.