Monegan sees money, energy as looming challenges

April 1, 2009 

Name recognition with voters shouldn't be a problem for Walt Monegan.

The former state public safety commissioner spent much of last summer and fall in the headlines, snarled in the Troopergate set-to surrounding his dismissal by Gov. Sarah Palin and whether that was connected to the Palin family's push for an investigation of the governor's former brother-in-law, a state trooper.

Monegan was reasonably familiar to Anchorage residents even before that. He spent 30-plus years as a local cop, and former Mayor George Wuerch surprised people by promoting Monegan, then a lieutenant, to chief over several higher ranking officers in 2001. It was a popular move.

"He's an outside-the-box thinker, kind of an alternative cop," a patrol officer said of Monegan at the time.

The son of an Irish father and an Alaska Native mother, Monegan, 57, grew up in rural Alaska and attended schools there as well as in Anchorage and Washington state. During a mayoral forum last month, he recalled trips from Nyac to Anchorage, a place "where you could try clothes on before you bought them."

Q. The biggest problem facing Anchorage is ...

A. Today it is the budget shortfall, tomorrow it will be the economy, and next, it will be energy. Each is a problem that needs to be addressed before becoming a crisis. Each is a challenge best met by someone who has been trained and has experience in handling challenges and crisis, and a record of working well with all parties to overcome such problems together.

Q. Give one example of the kind of development you think Anchorage needs more of, and one Anchorage needs less of.

A. Road infrastructure that allows improved traffic flow across town, east-west, and north-south. It would also be beneficial to include sidewalks, pathways, or trails parallel along such routes. What we need less are more "big box" stores, in that we are probably beyond saturation point, and are stifling small businesses.

Q. What, if anything, should the city do about the prospect of more bear attacks in city parks this summer?

A. A public awareness campaign for our community in schools, park and trail signs, community councils, libraries, and on the Muni Web site on safety tips in bear country should be provided. Certainly, if we work with state agencies to address problem bears, mind our own trash, pets, and wild food issues, we can enjoy living safely in our Alaskan community.

Q. Do you support lowering property taxes by starting a sales tax?

A. Yes, with specific limitations: It must be under the repaired Tax Cap reducing property tax dollar-for-dollar, no tax for groceries or prescription medicine, a cap for large purchases, and a sunset clause to reassess its worth. I would also support issuance of an annual "no tax" card for those earning under a specified income. The amount sought for sales tax should be based on the services we all use: public safety, health, and roads.

Q. Should the city support construction of a Knik Arm bridge? Why or why not?

A. Yes, aside from improving our traffic safety, it also protects our economy. As our available building space declines, forcing others to move into the Palmer-Wasilla area, we are converting farmland into subdivisions. That makes all of us further depend on the import of our food and holding us at the mercy of availability, production, and transportation prices.

Q. Are you for or against doing away with the I/M program for vehicles?

A. I would support doing away with the I/M program. Information I have seen suggests that the I/M tests do not play a significant role in improving air quality. What the I/M tests do is provide a funding source for citywide air quality monitoring. We all support clean air but we should find a more appropriate mechanism to fund air quality monitoring than an I/M test which is not necessary.

Q. Would you take a voluntary pay cut before you ask any employee to take one?

A. Yes, I would take a 10 percent pay cut. If sacrifices are to be asked of others, then their leaders should be willing to lead by example.

Q. Not counting Anchorage, name your three favorite cities. Why do you like them?

A. Seattle -- for shopping with my wife. Washington, D.C. -- for its museums, monuments. Sitka -- a fine example of a small and warm community in a majestic setting.

Party affiliation: Undeclared

Date of birth: May 23, 1951

Employment history: Law enforcement, miner, radio announcer, laborer, fisherman, and military. Education: Associate of arts, University of Alaska Anchorage 1992. Bachelor of arts in organizational administration, Alaska Pacific University 1992.

Military service: U.S. Marine Corps

Spouse's name: Terry Monegan

Children: Frostine, Scout, Sierra, Bret (deceased), and Haleyne

Web site:

E-mail address: Walt Monegan

This week's Q&As List of profiles we are publishing in alphabetic order: Monday: Matt Claman Tuesday: Eric Croft WEDNESDay: Paul Honeman Today: Walt Monegan Friday: Sheila Selkregg Saturday: Dan Sullivan

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