Quinn-Davidson would serve West Anchorage well

With Assemblyman Tim Steele's retirement, the citizens of West Anchorage have really stepped up. After three tie votes for the interim appointment, Jim Kubitz graciously switched his support to Ira Perman. Ira has hit the ground running as the temporary Assembly member.

We now have seven candidates running to serve until April 2020, including, for the first time we know of, brothers running against each other. Out of this diverse mix, we believe the best choice is Austin Quinn-Davidson.

Austin has already made an impressive positive impact in our community, both in her work and her free time. Austin is a lawyer by background and serves as the Legal Affairs and Land Transactions Director of Great Land Trust, an organization founded by Alaskans that creates parks and public access points to places throughout Southcentral Alaska, including local treasures like the Campbell Creek Estuary Natural Area, Fish Creek Estuary and the corridor to Rabbit Lake in the Chugach. As the director of all active projects, Austin is accustomed to balancing competing land use interests and has worked collaboratively with Native corporations, the state, the federal government, the municipality and private landowners to achieve win-win solutions for all parties involved. This ability to build consensus for public goals, bring different groups and interests together and do it all on a limited (or zero) public budget makes her an excellent candidate for the Assembly.

Austin is also dedicated to public service outside of her day job. She currently serves on the Budget Advisory Commission, gaining valuable insight into the complexities of the municipal budget. After her appointment to the commission by the mayor, she immediately spearheaded an effort to institute strategic planning on the commission, making it more effective and efficient. We know her to be involved in her community in many other ways, including as a volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters, through service on a local nonprofit group's finance committee, and as a founding member of Our Alaska, a nonpartisan group dedicated to a sustainable statewide fiscal plan. She consistently puts her time and energy into making our city and state a better place.

Personally, Austin is compassionate, hard-working, approachable and thinks outside the box. She is humble and treats her neighbors and others around her – including those she disagrees with — with respect. This is why people who know and have worked with her trust and believe in her. In a time when the world seems so polarized and rhetoric is so toxic, Anchorage needs levelheaded leadership that respects all members of the community. Not only does Austin care deeply about West Anchorage, she also has the motivation and skills to make a positive and long-lasting difference.

We know firsthand how difficult it can be to understand and advocate for the complex needs of our changing city. Anchorage needs safe but also vibrant neighborhoods, a diversified local economy and an education system that will be the foundation for Alaska's future. We know Austin shares many of those perspectives and will take a fresh and pragmatic approach in her service. We need someone who will address the problems and challenges our city faces today, while anticipating the needs of our city's future tomorrow. We need someone like Austin to represent West Anchorage on the Assembly.

Eric Croft is the current Assembly member for the other West Anchorage seat.
Jedediah Smith is the past president of the Spenard Community Council and serves on the Anchorage Budget Advisory Commission.

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