The Anchorage Daily News asked candidates for the April 2 election to the Anchorage Assembly to answer a series of questions on issues facing those bodies. We’re publishing select responses daily. The answers were fact-checked when facts were cited and edited for spelling, grammar and writing style. For more questions and to see all the candidates’ answers, click here. For School Board candidate surveys, click here.
Q: Do you support the alcohol tax proposed by the administration of Mayor Ethan Berkowitz? Why or why not?
DISTRICT 2, SEAT A: CHUGIAK-EAGLE RIVER
Yes. The revenue from the alcohol tax is planned to be used on multiple fronts to improve public safety, address the addiction crisis our community is facing, and root out the causes of homelessness to address the issue long term. This would also provide an onsite medical professional in our CAP police teams, which would alleviate the burden placed on our EMTs, police, and fire who spend significant amounts of time responding to medical emergencies instead of actual crimes.
No, it’s irrational to me to tax the responsible people to try to make the irresponsible people more responsible. Though the motive for trying to help people is admirable there is no scientific connection between taxing a certain behavior that actually results in eliminating that behavior. And there’s no guarantee that a tax for a specific use will actually go to that use. It simply tends to be a way to raise revenues that eventually ends up being used for other general unspecified uses.
DISTRICT 4, SEAT F: MIDTOWN
I’m not in favor. My concern is where the money will actually go and how it will benefit Anchorage.
I believe the alcohol tax is a straightforward way to address both the decreased state funding & urgent local issues without putting additional burden on property owners. Funding would allow us to develop a smart, coordinated strategy to protect residents and business owners, & free up our police and fire personnel to do their jobs. I support this tax because the funds are dedicated and want to absolutely ensure that the funding can only be used, now & in the future, to address these issues.
No, alcohol is already taxed, the Governor is giving the tax back to the communities for services.
DISTRICT 3, SEAT D: WEST ANCHORAGE
I am generally not a fan of taxes. However, in our current fiscal environment, this seems to be a reasonable method to address public safety and homelessness, our most pressing issues as a city. The biggest question I have heard talking to voters at the doors is about the allocation language of the funds. I look forward to learning more about the proposal, especially how specifically this revenue will be used and what results we can expect.
If what you’re getting at is building a world record zipline down Flattop to Anchorage then yes. But launching some off buildings downtown may be a better start. Someday a one “miler” to point Mackenzie or even from Wales to Diomede to Russia is only a little over 20 miles a zip or tram.
No. Throwing more money into city government is not always the answer. The Assembly just passed the highest city budget, over $500 million. Anchorage has the 11th highest property taxes in the country. Alaska also has the second highest alcohol tax in the nation. The Alaskan tax on alcohol was meant to provide funding for rehabilitation but that has not happened.
DISTRICT 5, SEAT H: EAST ANCHORAGE
Yes. I have been on several ride-alongs with the APD and like many of us I also grew up in Alaska. We all know that alcohol is a factor in many crimes and other social problems in our city. That doesn’t mean we should be prohibitionist or drive alcohol purveyors out of business. But it does mean that, when we look for a source of funds to tackle some of our toughest problems, including behavioral health and homelessness, an alcohol tax is one of the more equitable ways to raise those funds.
DISTRICT 6, SEAT J: SOUTH ANCHORAGE, GIRDWOOD, TURNAGAIN ARM
A “no” vote is a vote to accept the status quo regarding the drug addiction, alcoholism, mental illness and other things that lead to our parks being overrun with campers.