The Anchorage Daily News asked Anchorage Assembly candidates for District 1, North Anchorage to answer a series of issue questions. Read all of them here.
What is the most important problem facing North Anchorage? How would you address it?
Traffic/pedestrian/cycling safety. There are too many accidents between vehicles and pedestrians/cyclists, especially at intersections. Several motorists speed up for a yellow light and quite often run red lights. Cameras should be used to capture vehicles running red lights and citations should be issued. Sidewalks should be maintained throughout the winter to provide a safe place to walk.
Lack of opportunity, hope, purpose and mission for far too many residents. North Anchorage is one of the most diverse districts for any city or community council nationwide. We span an area that has a broad array of issues that are drastically different depending on the neighborhood, person, family or business you are asking. While I have been able to work hard and achieve a moderate amount of success in life, too many others have not been blessed with the same opportunity. I came from nothing as the son of an enlisted military veteran and a stay-at-home mom. I have lived on Muldoon next to a liquor store, in Mountain View and off Boniface. Lack of opportunity for many in our district juxtaposed to the abundance in South Addition and downtown is stark. We must focus on understanding the needs of all communities with the goal of having a thriving business district in all parts of Anchorage — not just our downtown. Not just jobs. Opportunities. Real opportunities.
Public safety. This comes in many forms, from our underfunding of the police department to lack of housing for the houseless, and poor upkeep of our community spaces. I would like to create more opportunities for the community to interact with our peace officers and provide incentives for new housing development.
The most important problem facing North Anchorage, and all of Anchorage in general, is the economy. Currently we are facing inflation, unwieldy budgets and the fear of more taxes. Those issues combined with a lack of good communication, rising homelessness and a failing Port of Alaska, results in a seeming dismal future for our city. So how do we address it? Making tough choices and taking action, not more studies, is what I plan to achieve. Stronger communication between departments, residents and officials is one achievable step. Looking for efficiencies and modernization will also help. Addressing the big obstacles such as the Port of Alaska and homelessness directly will show positive leadership for our community. The feeling of security and productiveness lead to a prosperous city and a stable economy.
District 1 includes ten diverse community councils. Airport Heights-Tikishla Park: roads, Seward to Glenn; downtown: speed limits, homelessness; Fairview: Seward to Glenn, closure of mass shelter, traffic concerns; Government Hill: Port of Alaska; Midtown: 36th Avenue interchange, homelessness; Mountain View: children, safety, crime; Northeast: Chanshtnu Muldoon Park, homelessness; North Star: homeless camps, underground utilities; Russian Jack: navigation center; South Addition: affordable housing. Everyone wants: safe neighborhoods, well-maintained streets, a thriving economy, safe and effective schools, solutions for homelessness. People want leadership that works cooperatively, truly cares about them and the impacts of their decisions; leaders that listen and put citizens ahead of politics, political posturing and power pursuits. The Assembly needs to get back to the basics with appropriate priorities for the city, and must guard against believing they know better than the people they serve.
North Anchorage needs more housing. Although this may sound like a simplistic answer, it’s the one thing that touches on so many other issues. We need more housing for the homeless, along with the ability to connect unhoused people to vital services like mental health, substance abuse treatment, job placement or medical care. Federal law also requires that we have enough housing and shelter capacity in order to do camp abatement in our parks and trails. Addressing housing inventory and cost of living is also crucial to workforce development. Affordable and middle market-rate housing makes it possible for young professionals, families, retirees and others living on fixed incomes to afford to live in our urban core and be part of a thriving economy. As an Assembly member, I will carefully consider land use and support changes to code that make it easier and less expensive to build multifamily properties and mixed use development, particularly in the downtown core.