Ketchikan Borough Assembly candidates face off in House forum

Candidates for the Ketchikan Borough Assembly shared their views at a forum hosted by the Greater Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce in mid-September. Here are some highlights.

Five candidates are running for two three-year terms in the Assembly. They are Jason Button, Darlene d-Svenson, Grant EchoHawk, Jaimie Palmer and Carlos Weimer. Button and Weimer were unable to attend the Facebook Live event due to medical emergencies. For the sake of disclosure, EchoHawk is the Chairman of the Board of KRBD.

Candidates were asked how the borough can best exercise its limited power. Palmer said the borough should consider reviving its economic development fund to invest in local businesses.

“This is a section that we certainly need to foster and develop, and work on planning and our economic development powers. Maybe reconnecting with our connection to Prince Rupert and what it looks like for expansion, exporting, and trading that way. What’s going on with Gravina? Access there? You have to think about it. “

The district assembly cut the fund in 2018. It had not had a reliable source of funding for nearly a decade, assembly finance officials said at the time.

EchoHawk said the borough should involve a wide variety of stakeholders when setting economic and trade policies.

“That includes the city, which includes KIC, which includes Ward Cove (Group), Saxman. Basically getting everyone into one conversation and then talking about – What is the future of our community? What do we want it to look like? What resources do we have throughout the community? Not just in the central district computer, but throughout the community.

d-Svenson said that as a second-class borough, the Ketchikan assembly already had a lot of power and said it didn’t think it should have more. She said the borough must learn to manage the powers it already has.

“And the Borough Assembly and the members and everyone involved must start to go out of their own way and allow the residents and citizens of the borough to expand their business opportunities. Have more entrepreneurial opportunities.

Applicants were also asked what they would do to close the potential economic gap if the cruise season is reduced in 2022.

d-Svenson said most of the community’s eggs are in one basket. She said she doesn’t see big business coming in and she doesn’t know how to attract small businesses if the income is lacking. She calls it an enigma.

“It’s a circle question for me because that’s where we are in our society. Putting a lot of information into a cruise ship hypothesis is talking to the air. “

Palmer said she believes the borough has been conservative in the budget process and that she is encouraged by projections for next year’s cruise ship season.

“When we talk to our cruise partners, they are really excited and hopeful about Alaska. Because Alaska has already proven that we can have a cruise season and not have an insane amount of COVID coming on these ships. And so it’s been a really good and fruitful relationship, so I’m hopeful of having a season. “

EchoHawk said the borough should prepare for the worst-case scenario. He said he believed a new city-owned fiber optic Internet link to Canada would open up opportunities. And he said a lot of good things are happening in Ketchikan, such as community gardens and farmers’ markets.

“These are new things that appear and generate local income that stay within our community. It helps small businesses.

Representing all residents of the borough, candidates were asked how they would deal with people with differing opinions.

Palmer said it’s important to work with others and to listen.

“We might have neighbors who might wave a politically different flag than we do at home, but at the end of the day you’re going to ask for an egg or butter and you just go on living. I think it’s important, as a member of a political body like the assembly, that we just act as humans and neighbors and do our best for the island as a whole.

EchoHawk said it was important to lower the temperature in controversial debates to allow the community to come together to achieve common goals.

“Of course, we will never agree 100% on everything, but it is one of the great advantages of having a representative democracy like this, where we have several people at the table, several people who discuss the best solution. action, and then we all decide that way.

d-Svenson says she would respect the will of the people and do research before making any decisions.

“My overall vote would be what would be best for the citizens and what would be best for the long term health of our municipality in Ketchikan.”

The candidates also gave their opinion on the borough’s strategic development plan and the financing of education, among other subjects.

The municipal elections are on Tuesday, October 5e. Polling stations are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The first two voters will serve three-year terms.

You can listen to the full hour-long forum hosted by Executive Chamber Director Michelle O’Brien here:

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