The Anchorage Daily News asked candidates for Anchorage Assembly to answer a series of issue questions. Read all of them here.
Kathy Henslee | District: 4 | Age: 55 | Occupation: Realtor | Campaign website: hensleeforassembly.com
What is a short summary of your background?
Kathy is a lifelong Alaskan. Married 35 years to retired Alaska Army National Guard pilot, Steve, they have five children, two sons in laws, and five grandchildren, and all live in Alaska. She is a realtor and has run several small businesses. Kathy has an extensive resume of community involvement – she helped develop and implement the Family Partnership Charter School, the very first charter school in Alaska. She also served as the Transitional Housing and Program Director for Priceless Alaska, a faith-based nonprofit organization partnering with the APD/FBI joint task force on sex trafficking in Alaska.
Why are you running?
I have been dissatisfied with the way this Assembly has been running Anchorage. Our city is in decline because of mismanagement and lack of leadership. Anchorage is my home and I could not stand by and watch things continue as they were so I decided to step up and offer a different perspective.
What makes you qualified to serve on the Anchorage Assembly?
My involvement in many businesses and our community gives me a unique understanding into the issues Anchorage faces. As a business owner, I have experience with budgets, economic issues, policies and processes. My involvement in our community includes helping to write and implement the first charter school in Anchorage, The Family Partnership Charter School. I also was the transitional housing and program director for Priceless Alaska, a faith based nonprofit organization working to end sex trafficking in Alaska. I am task oriented and goal driven.
What is the most important problem facing Anchorage? How would you address it?
Public safety. We all should be safe in our public parks, trails, downtown and even the library. Increase police presence in our community and work with prosecutors to keep violent criminals behind bars. Enforce the laws we thought were important enough to pass.
What is the most important problem facing your district? How would you address it?
Government overreach in small businesses including shutting them down and having unreliable and unreasonable mandates. Many small business owners have struggled to keep their doors open and provide for their families. I would help small businesses by reducing costs for permitting, giving tax incentives and encouraging development and innovation. Also, working on quality-of-life issues like crime and homelessness attracts businesses to come back to Midtown. People in Anchorage know how to work, let’s let them get back to it without the government on their backs.
What is your vision of the role of local government in Anchorage?
The main responsibility of the Anchorage Assembly is tackling crime, working to reduce homelessness, encouraging development, revitalizing our depressed economy and taking care of our all important infrastructure. Local government should be promoting quality of life and economic growth.
Rate Dave Bronson’s performance as mayor. Explain, with specific examples.
Mayor Bronson has worked on all the issues he said were important to him when he was running for office. Unfortunately, he has often been blocked by this uncooperative Assembly. I believe with a more reasonable Assembly, Mayor Bronson would accomplish a lot for Anchorage.
Rate the performance of the current Assembly. Explain, with specific examples.
Because of this Assembly, Anchorage is in decline. They spend too much money and our property taxes climb. Crime is rampant and they continue to be soft on prosecution and not supportive of our police. Homelessness is exploding so they throw more money at the problem even though that has not been working. Our economy is struggling, our port is disintegrating and our residents and businesses are leaving. Their policies and ideas are failing Anchorage.
What’s your vision for improving and diversifying Anchorage’s economy?
Anchorage needs to be open for business. That means a reasonable and consistent tax structure, incentives for growth and innovation, streamlining the development process and improving the quality of life in Anchorage so employees will want to live here with their families.
What do you see as the most effective strategies to address homelessness in Anchorage going forward?
There are ways to positively address homelessness. The way the Assembly has approached this issue is to spend more and more money with dismal results. Taking over the Sullivan Arena, among the longest running emergency shelters in the U.S., has had a negative impact on our whole community. We need to listen to people who are getting the results we desire. The Downtown Hope Center has taken no public funds, has gotten positive results and has been completely dismissed by this Assembly. We must pay attention to the people and organizations who are achieving success with homelessness. Working with these individuals and organizations will help to solve this heartbreaking, community destroying problem for all people in Anchorage.
What’s your assessment of Anchorage’s transportation infrastructure? How would you improve it?
Anchorage’s transportation infrastructure is in need of improvement. It should be a priority for the Assembly and I would make it a priority. Also, since, Congress has passed such a large infrastructure bill, I would work to get some of that money for the Port of Alaska, which must be rebuilt or all of Alaska is going to be in a terrible situation.
Does the city do a good job of running municipal elections? Would you push for changes? Explain.
The last municipal election had some issues that made the process seem insecure. I would like to go back to in-person voting. The process was less expensive, more secure and we got the results a lot faster! There is no reason that we cannot have secure, transparent, fair elections in Anchorage.
The past two years have been marked by increased civic discord in Anchorage. How would you improve the quality of civic discourse in the city?
Treating people with respect and listening to the public, who the Assembly should be representing, would go a long way.
Do you acknowledge the results of the 2020 presidential election? Also, what are your thoughts on what took place on Jan. 6, 2021 in the U.S. Capitol?
President Biden is our president. However, it is fair and reasonable to ask questions and demand accuracy in our elections. I believe the events on January 6th in the U.S. Capitol have been exaggerated and misrepresented by the media and the left. The deadly and costly riots around the country in the last couple of years were covered much differently. Unlawful actions should be prosecuted regardless of political affiliation.
What’s one thing that makes you hopeful about Anchorage’s future?
Anchorage is a city with everything to offer. Managed correctly, our children and grandchildren should prosper in the best city in the world to live, work and enjoy life in the Great Land.
What other important issue would you like to discuss?
It is important to find out exactly where all the CARES money from the federal government has gone. Small businesses and Anchorage families deserve to know how that money was spent by the Assembly.