21 questions: Anchorage Assembly candidate John Weddleton

Candidate: John Weddleton

Age: 60

Occupation: Self-employed all my life

Current employer: BOSCO’S Comics and Games since 1987

Previous public offices held or sought/community leadership positions: Anchorage Assembly District 6 Seat J representing South Anchorage, Girdwood and Turnagain Arm (2016-present); Mayor Berkowitz’ Jobs and Economy Transition Team member (July 2015); Spenard Chamber of Commerce (2011-present); Boy Scout Troop 2010 2012 (present), merit badge counselor; Abbott Loop Community Council Board (2014-2015) Credit Union 1 Board Member (2010- 2016); Anchorage Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (2012-2016); Planning & Zoning Commission (2008-2010); Anchorage Citizens Coalition President (2005-2008); Hillside’s Home And Land Owners Organization (HALO) Board Member (2004-2008, 2010-2011, Chair 2011-2015); Anchorage Chamber of Commerce Committees (2007-present); Mid-Hillside Community Council President (2000-2005)

Education: M.S., Economics, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 1986; B.A., Political Science, Tulane University, 1980



What steps have you taken to prepare for this job? What strengths do you bring to office, and what in your life demonstrates those strengths?

Decades of experience in the civic arena and running a small business give me a much-needed viewpoint on the Assembly. I learned many years ago that big decisions are made with us or without us. I decided to get involved.

Describe an ordinance or legislative issue you plan to bring forward as an Assemblymember, and any funding it might require.

People are getting nervous about bears in our neighborhoods. You will see soon an ordinance that addresses bears, trash and responsible behavior. Not a significant budget change. I will continue to work for better access to Chugach State Park that is respectful of the property rights of people owning land that could provide access. No budget change. I am working on a new way to prioritize the way we spend Federal Highway funds to direct them towards community development. No budget change.

What is the largest budget you’ve managed? State the amount, length of time and your level of responsibility.

The $500 million plus Municipal budget is by far the largest budget with my fingerprints on it. The Assembly has ultimate responsibility for approving the budget and keeping spending within that budget.

Describe your position on policies that affect the way Anchorage grows in the coming years.

It bothers me that 30,000 people a day commute to the Valley. Some number of those would rather live in Anchorage. We need to encourage and facilitate building homes those commuters want and can afford. We need to figure out how to make it cheaper and faster to build more units in developed areas that have the infrastructure. I support the broad outlines of our new Land Use Plan and the focus on town centers and preserving the variety of neighborhoods in Anchorage.

Do you support the alcohol tax proposed by the administration of Mayor Ethan Berkowitz? Why or why not?

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.

What should the city do to alleviate the problem of illegal camps in green spaces in the city?

We need to address it from both sides. We need to make it way more difficult to live in our parks with year-round ‘abatement’ in less than 10 days. Too many people feel it’s unsafe to use our parks. Neighborhoods next to our parks suffer an onslaught of crime. This has to stop.For a long term fix, we have to address the problems that lead to people making the tough choice of living in our parks.

The cost estimate for modernizing the Port of Alaska recently doubled. What do you think the city should do?

The cost of what we need to do did not double. A recent estimate of the cost of the many things we could do is double what we expected. Like any rational actor, we will focus on what we need and trim the wants. We need to start with repairing what is there.

There could be tough budget times ahead with state cutbacks. What can the city do to make up for those cuts?

In my 3 years on the Assembly we have faced costs due to state budget cutbacks every year. With the constraint of the tax cap, we will continue to pay for those new costs by cutting other things in the budget.

What did you think about Alaska’s efforts at criminal justice reform, which began in 2016 with Senate Bill 91?


One of the first things we did after I was elected was change parts of our code to conform with SB-91. Later that year we sent the legislature a long list of changes we needed. The roll out was poorly done, creating glaring problems, as the recession, increasing drug addiction and a failure of our mental health system stressed the system. Currently, the main criminal justice problems are due to the lack of state prosecutors, changes in the bail schedule and scarce help for addicts, not SB-91.

Describe your position on crime in Anchorage.

I’m opposed to crime. You should be, too.

How do you feel Anchorage performed in the recent 7.0 earthquake? What can the city government do, or what would you do on the Assembly, to improve seismic safety or emergency preparedness?

We did a great job. FEMA told us that they usually come to a city that is waiting for FEMA to patch things up. When they got to Anchorage, we were already well along with recovery. Our non-profits, churches, utilities, AK DOT and their contractors, and APD and AFD all moved quickly. We are evaluating the causes of building failures and may tweak our codes to deal with those. We may find that we are doing things that are unnecessary, too. This was a good test for a larger earthquake.

What do you think of the job Ethan Berkowitz has been doing as mayor?

He campaigned on building up the police force. He has done that. I like working with the Mayor and the exceptional team he has built.

Overall taxation in Anchorage is....too low? Too high? Just right? Explain. If taxes are too high, what would you cut? If taxes are too low, what would you raise?


A typical homeowner might pay $5,000 per year in property taxes. That’s less than 1/2 what it costs to educate the average student at ASD. So a family with a child in school gets a bargain. People with high value homes worried about crime, with no kids at home and those paying property tax on commercial properties, might well think they pay more than the value they get. The three budgets I have worked on have made significant cuts throughout the city to move money toward rebuilding the police force.

Tell us your ideas about transit and infrastructure in Anchorage.

When people need a car to have a job, that really hits lower paid workers hard. People Mover is struggling. Its budget has been cut for years and the results show. It pains me that we have no real bus service in most of South Anchorage. It only functions well in a few parts of town. I’ve lived in cities with such a great transit system, driving a car was the hassle. I have to note that the community of Girdwood formed their own bus service! It is doing well.

What other important issue would you like to discuss here?

The questions here would suggest Anchorage is a gloomy place to live. Sure, we have some big challenges. Crime and homelessness are coming to define our city. But that’s not Anchorage. Anchorage is a wonderful place to live, to do business, to raise a family and to play.When I moved to Anchorage, I was drawn to the amazing mountains and the huge natural space. In my 30 plus years here, I see steady improvements. More restaurants, better roads, more and better trails and parks. This list is long.

What is the most pressing problem facing your district?

Petty crime.

Would you support a law allowing on-site consumption of marijuana?

More research needed. I’m concerned about driving.

What three places would you pick when highlighting Anchorage to tourists?

1) Chugach State Park 2) Alyeska Tram 3) The Anchorage Museum

Would you take steps toward reversing Anchorage’s plastic bag ban?


No. People want this.

Do you support the Berkowitz administration’s efforts to create a climate change action plan?

Yes-we can be cleaner just by cost-cutting actions.

If you were asked to cut the city budget by 10 percent in the coming fiscal year, in which three areas would you recommend cuts?

I wouldn’t. No responsible person could cut 10%.