Compass: Ernie Hall isn't a problem, he's a community asset

Reading Julia O'Malley's long article on one particular write-in candidate ("Nick Moe and the possible -- an upset win," March 28) leaves one with the impression that this particular candidacy represents a unique answer to a problem. We believe that an important community counterpoint is that there is no problem in search of a solution.

We have known Ernie Hall for decades. Over those years we have seen a community volunteer who has consistently solved problems -- not created them. For over 40 years, Ernie's track record has been as a consensus builder.

We have been deeply involved in community issues and have rarely seen someone as concerned about improving the quality of life in Anchorage and about involving as many citizen voices as possible in that process.

It is worth noting the extraordinary depth of that volunteer commitment because over all those years we have never seen Ernie Hall promote his own name, but only to work behind the scenes to find positive resolutions to the often difficult issues that drive community debate.

Ernie was chair of the Airport Advisory Committee, chair of the Anchorage Economic Development Committee, chair of the Chamber of Commerce, chair of the Anchorage Parking Authority, chair of Buy Alaska and Make it Alaska, chair of the Career & Technology Advisory Board at UAA, chair of the Food Bank of Alaska and co-chair of United Way. Ernie has been a board member of Alaska Children's Services, Alaskan Command Civilian Advisory Board, Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau, Anchorage Park Foundation, Best Beginnings Early Learning Council, Chancellor's Advisory Board at UAA, Postsecondary Education Committee -- Alaska Student Loan Corp., and Anchorage Theater of Youth. As president of Greater Anchorage Inc., Ernie is universally credited with saving Fur Rendezvous for all of us to enjoy.

The community awards that Ernie has received have rarely been equaled: Alaska Business Hall of Fame, First Ladies Volunteer Award, Governors Award as Alaskan of the Year, Mayor's Distinguished Leader Award, Chamber Gold Pan Award, and a long list of other volunteer recognitions.

The Ernie Hall we know brings people together on big issues and tries to find consensus. The Ernie Hall we know recognizes that there are many voices in our community and tries to listen to them all. The Ernie Hall we know ran a small business through the difficult economic times of the '80s and understands that there are times to grow and times to tighten our belts. The Ernie Hall we know would open his door to anyone at any time to listen -- but was never afraid to stand up and lead.

Anchorage has grown and changed and we've gone through ups and downs, but we can tell you from personal experience that Ernie Hall has remained consistently upbeat and involved -- in good times and bad.

As an Assembly member, Ernie finally experienced life in the limelight. That limelight has not changed Ernie, and even with the rock-throwing that goes with public life he has handled it with the same good humor and inclusive outlook that he has always had.

When the public wanted Campbell Creek Estuary protected -- but at no cost to taxpayers -- Ernie made it happen. When the community demanded a conclusion to the ten-year Title 21 process, Ernie played a leading role in making that happen. When public confidence in the election process soured, Ernie worked hard to repair it.

The stories about Ernie's community commitment go on and on, but one simple statistic says it all. Ernie attends five different community council meetings every month -- and if you have strong opinions about how our city should run, we suggest you show up there -- because you'll find Ernie listening.

Al Fleetwood is a retired Alaska banker and former president of several Chambers of Commerce in Alaska, David Wight is the former CEO of Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., and Judy Brady is former executive director of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association.