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. Many of the questions were suggested by readers. We’re publishing select responses daily. The answers were fact-checked when facts were cited and edited for spelling, grammar and writing style. See answers from all the candidates here. For School Board candidate surveys, click here.
Q: The cost estimate for modernizing the Port of Alaska recently doubled. What do you think the city should do?
DISTRICT 2, SEAT A: CHUGIAK-EAGLE RIVER
We need to look at long term solutions instead of short term reactionary fixes. It’s more responsible to put our resources toward increasing the potential for future development while addressing our current needs. The constant battle we face in the current port site requires we at least look fully at alternative sites that may have long term lower maintenance costs, better sustainability, larger capacity and could open up new opportunities that have yet to be explored.
For a cost of this size, there needs to be an independent third party validation of the Port repair costs. If the cost estimates are accurate, then the city should lobby for both state and federal dollars to support this repair and modernization effort. The Port of Alaska is the lifeline for our city and state, providing our fuel, food and other resources as well as being a critical component for national security. The Port of Alaska is critical to our state and it cannot be ignored.
DISTRICT 4, SEAT F: MIDTOWN
Seek funds from every possible source and make this a priority.
This is not just an Anchorage port - it’s an Alaskan port. It can - and has to be - fixed. The state has to participate in a financial commitment that chooses private sector professionals to fix Alaska’s primary port of entry and be held responsible for their work.
The city must scrutinize the new costs and ensure it’s clear who will bear them. The port provides critical services well beyond Anchorage. It is essential to food security and national security. The port must be fixed. I’ve recently completed a tour. Loss of this port would be devastating to Alaska, not just Anchorage. Anchorage should not be required to be responsible for carrying the entire burden of a project that is essential to most of our state’s residents, businesses, & our military.
DISTRICT 3, SEAT D: WEST ANCHORAGE
The “devil is in the details” and serving on the Assembly would provide me with specific facts and history to make an informed conclusion on this issue. The port is critical infrastructure for both Anchorage and the state, so the solution should include state resources.
This should be a top priority for the Assembly over the next year. This is a serious problem that, unfortunately, the Municipality of Anchorage has to solve because the state has failed in its duties to do so. We need to continue to research how to update the Port while remaining as cost efficient as possible. Half of the cargo that enters AK goes through the Port, and we need to take the steps to ensure that the Port of Alaska can remain a resource for not only Anchorage, but the rest of Alaska.
Fall back and punt. A zipline is a drop in the bucket just build one.
DISTRICT 5, SEAT H: EAST ANCHORAGE
There is widespread agreement that the Port of Alaska needs to be repaired, but there are also strong feelings that the project has to be closely tracked and contained. We are going to limit the project to only that which is essential. We will also investigate all options to fund the repairs, including pursuing litigation against MARAD for the prior expansion disaster and encouraging the Legislature to push for a general obligation bond, to help hold down the tariff rates.
DISTRICT 6, SEAT J: SOUTH ANCHORAGE, GIRDWOOD, TURNAGAIN ARM
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.