It is said too often, but the upcoming elections are critical for the future of Anchorage. The control of the Assembly (and possibly the identity of an interim mayor) hangs in the balance. Voters on April 1 will have a clear choice regarding the direction of the Municipality. Do we want Assembly members who view their primary job as protecting the taxpayer from unnecessary government spending, or do we want an Assembly that will always "tax to the cap" and view the tax cap as little more than a regrettable impediment to greater spending?
I am running for Assembly because I want to do my utmost to ensure Anchorage remains the same land of opportunity for future generations that it has been for my family. The key to doing that is to ensure that government remains limited and focused on its essential functions (public safety, infrastructure and education) and that an environment exists in which the private sector can flourish and grow our economy.
I believe I have the skills, experience and background to make a real difference on the Assembly. I have served my country as a paratrooper, my community as a police officer, and since moving to Anchorage I have been chair of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce on two separate occasions. I currently serve on the Chamber's board of directors, as a commissioner on the Municipal Transportation Commission, and as a board member on the Anchorage Employee Relations Board. I have also been president of my local home owners association and chair of the State Mental Health Board.
But most importantly, for over 20 years I have worked as an attorney representing private sector employers with their employment and labor relations issues. I understand collective bargaining and labor relations.
It is vital for Anchorage to prepare for a not-too-distant future when the availability of federal and state funding is significantly constrained. I do not believe this prospect should be looked towards with dread. Rather, I believe that if we plan intelligently we can position Anchorage to thrive in such an environment. Fiscal constraint can, if approached boldly and with intelligence, be a creative force for positive change, innovation and efficiency.
In the interest of putting the tax payer first, I, unlike my opponents, have consistently supported AO37, the municipal labor ordinance. I believe it is a significant tool in ensuring that the administration can effectively control future labor costs. As is the case with any substantial city, labor costs comprise the vast bulk of our budget. If you don't effectively manage that aspect of the municipal budget you lose the ability to provide for other priorities.
Unlike my opponents I support moving the municipal elections to November in 2017. We have a well documented record of achieving greater voter turnout in November. The more people who vote, the harder it becomes for any special interest to exert an outsized influence. Accordingly, moving the elections to November is another mechanism for protecting the taxpayer.
It is almost cliché for candidates to simply tout spending for education as an "investment in our future." It truly is -- but not every investment is a wise investment. Even though the Assembly does not have a direct role in the details of the operations of the Anchorage School District, I believe Assembly members should be advocates for the taxpayers in their districts to ensure that the substantial investment we make in education is a wise investment. Accordingly, I think it is important for Assembly members to use their influence over the ASD budget to push for greater efficiencies and to encourage sensible innovation in the manner in which we provide education.
I believe I bring a fiscally conservative, boldly innovative, and sensible approach to our future. Our future can be brighter than our present but it is not something that will just happen. We have to take the steps to ensure that it happens. On April 1 the voters of Anchorage will have a choice to make about the future of our home. On April 1, I would be honored to have your vote.
By BILL EVANS