The Anchorage Daily News asked candidates for Anchorage Assembly in the 2020 election to answer a series of questions, many of which were based on suggestions from readers. Find all candidates and their answers here. (We also surveyed candidates for Anchorage School Board.)
Note: This survey was sent and candidates’ responses were collected in February, before the first confirmed case of the new coronavirus was reported in Alaska.
Candidate: MoHagani Magnetek
Occupation: U.S. Coast Guard
Why are you running?
I am running for Anchorage Assembly because I spend a great deal of my personal time, energy and resources helping people I know and/or people who reach out to me for some type of support. Personally, I am one of the most marginalized members of the community, thus I know firsthand what it is like to be discriminated, placated and underrepresented in legislative policies. Attaining a seat on the Assembly is a surefire way for me to promote business growth, the cannabis industry, help people with mental illness and physical disabilities, military veterans and active duty service members, houseless members, artists, LGBTQ+, people of color, affluent and poor people.
The Magnetek campaign platform is public safety and reducing stigma, governmental transparency and compassion for all. We reduce stigma by encouraging acceptance of others without judgments, which decreases fear and anxiety in our community to make everyone in public feel safer. Many, if not most Anchorage residents have little to no idea about how the city Assembly works. There is great divide between the people and our local government. Bringing all people together is one of my many strengths. When I speak of compassion for all, I am talking about a little love is all it takes to create a more enjoyable place to live for all of us. Essentially, the more we empathize with others in our district and city. the less societal issues such as crime, cultural indifference and public shaming we will have.
What is your overall vision for Anchorage?
I envision Anchorage as a leader in the world of what community, compassion and nonpartisan collaboration can be. Geographically, we are at the top of the United States. The rest of the nation is always curious about what is happening here in Alaska. We have the potential to not only exhibit a greater understanding of humanity but to stand on the cutting edge of climate change adaptation, arts, science, economics and equal rights for all. The world is looking at us, so my vision is to make Anchorage brighter and a shining light for the rest of our nation to see and aspire to become. We are leaders and need to exude leadership up here on the Last Frontier. I visualize myself at the Assembly town hall meeting passing the microphone around and creating space for listening to all of our voices.
What specifically should the city do to offset the decline in revenue from the state? Are you in favor of new taxes or revenue? If so, what specifically?
Bringing back vehicle emissions testing fees and promoting winter tourism are some ways to produce revenue for Anchorage. Of all the propositions on the ballots, the 5% alcohol tax is the most problematic because Anchorage voted ‘no’ during the last election. Yet the city Assembly is pushing this again.
There’s no guarantee enough money will be raised to support the vague supportive services listed on the upcoming ballot. And then it’s just the word “tax” itself... in American history since the 1700s, that has been an ugly word very few people want to hear for a multitude of reasons.
If generating revenue is the goal then a good place to examine first is the city’s budget. The police officers do not have a pension. The mental health facilities are underfunded. There are little services to uplift the houseless members. The roads after snowfalls go unplowed. The elders at the Senior Activity Center are rained on because their roof has not been repaired. The Port of Alaska has been in dire need of reconstruction for the past 20-plus years.
So exactly where are the people’s hard-earned dollars really going? Why propose a tax if the money that already exists is not being used effectively for the entire city? Yet they are forcing an alcohol tax propaganda campaign down the peoples’ throats.
Should the city cut its budget? If so, where specifically would you cut spending?
This is why government transparency is paramount; our city Assembly needs to utilize the budget in effective manners that benefit everyone before cutting any parts. There are monetary resources, but the city Assembly is lacking economic-minded thinkers in order to understand how to manage the budget with what we already have as a city. Like it, love it or hate it; our city needs a balance of liberal, conservative and creative minds to examine the budget objectively with understanding of past, present and future economic trends throughout our state, nation and world.
What specific steps should the city take to address homelessness? If your vision requires funding, where would the money come from?
Stop using words like “crisis”, “prevention” and “eradicate” because they evoke fear and encourage stigmatizing poor people. Understand that everyone who is houseless is not because of alcohol or substance abuse, rather an Alaskan lifestyle choice to live outside year-round. With Land Use Analysis, we can find and create safe spaces for people. Tent cities and tiny home projects are some examples of how we can ensure everyone has the right to sleep. There is no good reason except for nasty attitudes as to why we all cannot have space to live and thrive. Working together without stigma, pointing fingers and putting down others is the path to a compassionate, loving city in which everyone is able to live the lives they choose to live. We must also keep in mind, rent is too damn high… most Alaskans live paycheck-to-paycheck, and in some cases PFD-to-PFD, and many are just one lost paycheck away from being homeless. There is no such thing as a homeless “crisis” or “problem.” The 1964 earthquake was a crisis. All of this talk by current Assembly members, city leaders and the wealthy is all hype, propaganda and fake news. This messaging needs to come to an immediate halt so we can move on and figure out how to support one another with love and not fear.
What is the biggest issue facing Anchorage, and how would you address it?
The city Assembly website is outdated, archaic and not user-friendly. Many of the community councils and Assembly members themselves rely on Facebook as a means of interacting with the people. However, there is life beyond Facebook and for the many people who do not use social media, they are unintentionally excluded from the governmental happenings. In the 21st century, the city Assembly website is the first place people go to for any information, yet the text is small and the links are a labyrinth of indiscernible algorithms. A simple fix for the time being is to place an instructional “how-to” video on the landing page so people can learn how to navigate such difficult terrain.
What specific steps should the city take to address crime in Anchorage?
Other than fortifying our police officers, we can encourage more enrollment in the Anchorage Police Department’s Citizen Academy and produce a public crime-stopping campaign that educates people how to halt crime without endangering themselves. Neighborhood watch programs are still an effective means to deter crime. We can adopt the phrase, “If you see something, say something,” and expand it to include, “…do something while maintaining your own safety and well-being.” With a limited police force, the only way we are going to feel safer is to step up as a community to alleviate some of the stresses of our uniformed peace officers.
2019 was the warmest year on record for Alaska. What should Anchorage do to address climate change?
Climate change is real. As humans we exist on a living organism that changes over time, whether naturally or as a result of pollution and industrialization. Through public dialogue and conversations about climate change, we will develop fresh ideas for how we thwart detrimental climate change and analyze the impending changes and for ways and solutions of adaptation in the years ahead of us.
How is the current Assembly doing? Are there any issues you would raise if elected?
The current Assembly’s major issue is the lack of transparency and direct engagement with their respective districts. Many people are dismayed because they simply do not know what the Assembly is and is not doing with our resources. If the people of Anchorage are provided more understanding and transparent leadership, the gap between the Assembly and citizens will dissipate and our city government can proceed in a manner that involves us all with less animosity.
The Port of Alaska needs at least hundreds of millions of dollars to modernize. How should port modernization be paid for?
The Assembly must present a clear and detailed budget so we can all know how much funds we have to repair the Port of Alaska. As it stands, we are not armored with enough monetary information and the exact problems of our port. We are simply told the port is old and needs repairs. More specificity is required for us to develop a plan to fix our port sooner than later.
Describe an ordinance or legislative issue you plan to bring forward as an Assembly member, and any funding it might require.
Update the website with current and progressive technology. As a web and graphic designer for over 20 years, I know this is an easy fix. It is a small but doable project which promises governmental transparency and does not cost more than a few hours of technological labor and creative expertise.
There is a movement in the Eagle River/Chugiak district to secede from the Municipality of Anchorage. Where do you stand on EagleExit?
I do not have a position on this issue because it is a matter of self-determination for the people in Eagle River and Chugiak.
What other important issue would you like to discuss here?
P.E.A.C.E. — Please Educate All Communities Equally.