The Anchorage Daily News asked candidates for Anchorage Assembly to answer a series of issue questions. Read all of them here.
Kevin Cross | District: 2 | Age: 48 | Occupation: Real estate broker, lender and small business owner | Crossforak.com
What is a short summary of your background?
Father of four and husband. Born and raised in Anchorage. Pipefitter for 16 years, 3 NICET engineering certificates in fire protection science, former Sunday school teacher, seven years at First Baptist Church, 2014 President, Anchorage Board of Realtors, President/Broker of Real Estate Brokers of AK, Owner of Quantum Laundry Lounge, commercial lending broker, commercial real estate broker, president of the real estate exchange, current chair of the Anchorage Platting Board, landlord, and wildly optimistic, voracious problem solver.
Why are you running?
To represent the people of Chugiak-Eagle River, Eklutna, and JBER. To protect the rights of small businesses and private property, reduce the red tape and complications of our MOA planning departments, and fight to protect the unique and charming character of District 2 while promoting the Chugiak Eagle River Comprehensive Plan.
What makes you qualified to serve on the Anchorage Assembly?
I am born and raised in Anchorage, and I’ve worked in a multitude of private industries and have seen the effects of well-intended but poorly executed government time and again. As a commercial real estate broker, I have helped hundreds of people build businesses and know the difficulties of being an entrepreneur. As a commercial loan broker, I see the financial burdens imposed by regulations and redundancy. As the 2014 president of the Anchorage Board of Realtors, I worked to protect private property rights. Serving on the platting board has allowed me to gain knowledge regarding the long-range development plans for Anchorage and recognize the challenges and opportunities these bring. As a remodel contractor, I have climbed the burdensome hurdles of the permitting office and seen first-hand the battles our contractors face daily. Finally, I’m a fierce defender of individual rights and not one to sacrifice freedoms out of fear.
What is the most important problem facing Anchorage? How would you address it?
The lack of trust and disenfranchisement with our local government. Our current Assembly has behaved in a way that has created great distrust in our system. Actions speak louder than words and the public has been growing more frustrated at what they feel is blatant disregard. We do not treat each other with the respect we want in return. We have allowed special interest and personal agendas to creep into policy, create a lack of civility, and leave the citizens with fewer rights and a large bill. I intend to be an assemblyman for the working class. Everyone deserves to be appreciated and listened to, even if it’s inconvenient or you disagree. Curiosity is the foundation of learning.
What is the most important problem facing your district? How would you address it?
Taxation without representation. District 2 disproportionally pays a larger sum in property taxes than we receive in benefit. Additionally, we require less from public services since we are a low crime area. While we continue to grow with new housing out pacing the rest of Anchorage, we struggle to get our share of road improvement funds and services. Example: The lack of respect by the current Assembly members who recently referred to District 2, and areas of Hillside, as “people of wealth and privilege” when discussing reapportionment. Transparency in government is how we solve this, and transparency is currently lacking.
What is your vision of the role of local government in Anchorage?
To listen to and respect the will of our citizens, protect the rights of individuals and businesses, manage necessary services for public safety, support and inspire increased educational standards, hold every dollar accountable, adhere to the Constitution of the United States, and to our charter.
Rate Dave Bronson’s performance as mayor. Explain, with specific examples.
Mayor Bronson is working hard to reduce spending and promote cost consciousness. Sadly, there are nine on the Assembly who support big government and higher taxes, which was proven when nearly all the mayor’s budget cuts were vetoed from the $550 million 2022 operating budget, despite our looming budget issues. Even his appointments that should have had little to no issue (example: Carrie Jamie for Animal Control Board) were politicized and treated with hostility, delayed, interrogated, and made suspect. Mayor Bronson was elected because the citizens of Anchorage are tired of “business as usual” in government. It appears not all appreciate that message.
Rate the performance of the current Assembly. Explain, with specific examples.
A majority of the Assembly has acted in a way that undermines the trust of the people of Anchorage. AO 2021-117 moved to directly limit public testimony, limit speech, and expand the powers of the chair unreasonably. No other Board or Commission that addresses the public in the same manner has acted so brazen. Executive sessions have been sealed, emails have been blacked out, and public testimony has been ignored in order to push an agenda that did not represent the will of the people. We have the God-given right to present our grievances to our elected officials even if they do not agree. Manipulating dates for public testimony to avoid hearing from the public is insulting to the heart of democracy. This process is critical, and the trust must be reinforced since elections and open dialog are the peaceful means for a society to share discontent. Recently, Chris Constant referred to District 2, and areas of the Hillside as “people of wealth and privilege” when discussing reapportionment. This is just bad behavior and we should demand better of the Assembly.
What’s your vision for improving and diversifying Anchorage’s economy?
Allow business to do business. We lost many businesses because the Assembly and former mayor chose to allow some to prosper and forced others out of business based on fear. Equal protection under the law was ignored. Our mouths were covered while their ears were closed. FEMA funds should not have been used for sheltering homeless but should have been directed to small businesses that were devastated by these mandates. Property tax credits should be offered to business who were shut down, or we should be looking to help with the burden of employment by offsetting the cost of workman’s comp. insurance, which has skyrocketed. With so many businesses needing employees, it should be more difficult to obtain unemployment compensation and less expensive for employers. Finally, we should get off the backs of our contractors and simplify and streamline the planning and permitting departments. We are nearly as difficult to build in as California.
What do you see as the most effective strategies to address homelessness in Anchorage going forward?
Treatment is critical. I have been a landlord for a very long time. I have even worked with Low Income Housing Tax Credit properties, rented to people on AK Housing, Catholic Social Services, PRC, Home for Good, United Way and others. All low-income housing is transitional housing where people are in need of temporary assistance to get through a troubling time. Sadly, the system is mired in people who know how to abuse the generosity of the taxpayer and they have discovered that it does not have to be temporary. There is a group called the “million-dollar club” that is notorious for getting one person in on a lease, then moving multiple people into the unit and destroying the property. The landlords receive no assistance dealing with them, just the bill and a long, drawn-out eviction process. They move out after causing thousands of dollars in damage and driving away the good tenants. Oftentimes the Housing Assistance programs place people who desperately need hospitalization or treatment, but those are NOT required for housing and it’s the landlord who pays. More housing is not solving the problem if there is no provision requiring treatment. I can go on for hours on this topic alone. I have dealt with it personally and helped others firsthand. The lack of support for the property owner, low standards for the tenant, and not tying housing to treatment has created a system that is not meeting the needs of the people.
What’s your assessment of Anchorage’s transportation infrastructure? How would you improve it?
We have seen some great projects in the last 10 years and still have a way to go. The Seward Highway to Glenn Highway should be nonstop, and we are moving that direction. We are blessed to have large areas of District 2 operate under CBERRSA. You can tell where our road service agreements begin, and the MOA maintenance ends. We would benefit from expanded road service agreements in our district since so many of our roads don’t get consistent service and road projects take a back seat to most other Districts. Our local contractors who take care of over 350 miles of roads have done remarkable work. This model should be expanded and used in other areas of government. You could also lump the Port of Alaska under this category and that must be addressed. It is a critical attribute to all of Alaska and is dangerously close to failure. The Port project is a giant game of “who’s going to pay?” The $367 million lawsuit we won could be reduced on appeal so we cannot rely completely on those funds yet.
Does the city do a good job of running municipal elections? Would you push for changes? Explain.
For the most part, I do think we’re doing a good job. That is because we have lots of good people watching the process. I also believe that mail-in ballots have allowed too much opportunity for fraud and have created a lack of trust in the system. Mail-in ballots should be used only in very limited situations. I support more traditional voting. In person. One person. One vote. In the open. Transparent to all. Increased voting numbers is a false indication of a fair election, particularly if there is an increased likelihood of shenanigans.
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?
It is the job of an Assemblyman to listen to our citizens. We are the extension of government closest to the people. Open dialog and compassion has not been a message the current Assembly has done a good job of communicating. Many would say they have thrown gas on the fire (AO 2021-117). I intend to listen, be grateful, seek first to understand, and I will always support the will of my District, our Community Councils, our residences, and businesses. I will be a messenger for the people of Chugiak-Eagle River, Eklutna, and JBER and not a political activist out to push an extreme agenda.
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?
Yes, I acknowledge the results of the 2020 election. It is also completely reasonable to question authority and hold the process to a high standard. Let’s not forget that the 2020 election is not the first election to have been controversial. The 2016 election was called into question with claims of Russian influence for all 4 years of the Trump administration by mainstream media and leading Democrats. I also do not support or endorse the behaviors of those who entered the Capitol any more than I endorse or support people who loot stores, burn down courthouses, and destroy buildings whenever they are upset with something they see on TV. At the same time, we cannot let the bad behavior of a few diminish the concerns of the many.
What’s one thing that makes you hopeful about Anchorage’s future?
The spirits of my children, ages 7, 10, 13, and 24, and our small businesses, our community councils, our hard work ethic, and our strong churches. We hold ourselves to a higher standard and are more community orientated. This is why District 2 is the future of housing and development in Anchorage.
What other important issue would you like to discuss?
We are facing some very large financial obligations. The Port of Alaska, taxpayer exposure for unreimbursed FEMA expenses, ASD budget increases/bonds, low test scores, rampant inflation. We need an Assembly of experienced business owners who are fiscally conservative, hold dollars accountable, and seek to promote parental involvement in education.