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: What did you think about Alaska’s efforts at criminal justice reform, which began in 2016 with Senate Bill 91?
DISTRICT 2, SEAT A: CHUGIAK-EAGLE RIVER
We have new challenges that require new approaches, and the Governor’s efforts toward replacing SB91 are focused on making that happen. The Muni has to adapt to any new legislation. Regardless, I think we all agree that one basic function of government is to provide effective public safety. Responding appropriately will need constant attention.
There have been significant problems associated with SB91. Many have been successfully addressed through our State Legislature and our crime rates are beginning to decrease. The original proposal allocated resources to address our high recidivism rates as well as mental health and addiction for our state but lacked follow through. We must invest in our police and public safety officials, as well as support local community patrols which have been an effective resource to addressing crime.
DISTRICT 4, SEAT F: MIDTOWN
The intent of SB91 made sense, decrease our state costs for incarceration & decrease repeat offenses. Unfortunately, the law changes were rolled out before the supporting programs were put in place & the ones that were eventually put in place did not have full funding. The changes were also rolled out during an economic downturn where there is a natural uptick in crime, & there were many changes that had unintended & negative impacts in Anchorage that were not addressed quickly enough.
Catch and release, not enough punishment and penalties.
I am very relieved and encouraged that Governor Dunleavy has made a strong commitment to this end and that legislators are actively working to revise this situation.
DISTRICT 3, SEAT D: WEST ANCHORAGE
That’s the fluoride one right ? Not a happy camper, not that there’s anything wrong with that, I just don’t like the fact that a classified neurotoxin that’s causes measurable brain damage to the effect of lowering IQs is added to our water supply.
I think that Senate Bill 91 was flawed, but I look forward to seeing our legislators improve this issue on the state level. Locally, I have learned from APDEA [Anchorage Police Department Employees Association] that they need more support in addressing addiction and mental health.
I did not vote for SB 91. As a former prosecutor, I knew it would be disastrous for our community.
DISTRICT 5, SEAT H: EAST ANCHORAGE
Clearly there were problems with SB 91, and implementation challenges as well. But those who say that SB 91 caused all our crime problems or that repealing it will solve all those problems are mistaken. Crime started to spike in 2014 and 2015, before SB 91 passed. What is needed now is a genuine investment in public safety, coupled with efforts to reduce recidivism. Swift, certain justice, well-staffed and trained police forces, and treatment and reentry programs are how you get actual results.
DISTRICT 6, SEAT J: SOUTH ANCHORAGE, GIRDWOOD, TURNAGAIN ARM
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.