FNSB Assembly Candidates at Forum
Borough Assembly Candidates shared their views with the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce yesterday (Tuesday.) In what is one of the area’s best-attended forums, 65 people watched on YouTube. Candidates for Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly answered questions about budgeting, pandemic impact and local energy. Links to the candidate's campaign websites are embedded in the text of this story.
Both people running for Seat E have served on the Assembly. Shaun Tacke served for three-years, and Jimi Cash has served a year and is the incumbent in this seat.
Cash homeschools his five children, and runs a contracting company. He says maintenance should be the borough’s spending priority.
“Because as the buildings in the borough get older, and worn down, those issues are going to get worse and worse. And a lot of those buildings include school buildings. That affects everything, not just education, but the overall budget of the borough.”
He’d like to consider privatizing the Carlson Center, and have the community support military veterans who retire here.
Shaun Tacke is a small business owner with two children in public schools, which he says should be the borough’s priority.
“A lot of the services we have are already razor thin, making sure and we have an adequately funded education is very important. Where to take it from? Public Works might be a little bit, we’ve taken a little bit of savings from there already. Solid waste disposal can have a conversation as well yeah, it’s pretty tight already.”
Running for Seat H, Aaron Lojewski is serving a three-year term on the assembly, having authored a maintenance ordinance requiring 7% of the budget be slated for fixing things. He runs a tourism company.
“The area that needs funding the most, it might be counterintuitive, but it is going to be facilities maintenance. We’ve seen the problem if you defer maintenance year, after year, after year. Imagine when that happens to a major school, and suddenly teachers can’t come to work. That’s a very realistic possibility if we don’t plan wisely.”
Ryan VanReenan introduced himself as a laborer and father of two.
“We’ve got 5,600 people coming here as part of the F-35 program. They don’t have to bring their families here, but we want them to. They are going to look at whether or not we are providing a sound, quality education system. As for where I would cut it from, I said this in a past forum, as much as I like our parks and trails, if it came down to a choice between a trail and a teacher, I will always choose the teacher.”
Three people are running for Seat D, left vacant by Christopher Quist. Donald Crocker works in student support at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and volunteers with the Bread Line and Fairbanks Children’s Museum. He emphasized funding the school district.
“With the things that are going on with the pandemic, the school district will need adequate education funding. On top of that, it’s an economic driver. As we see an increase in military personnel coming, they are also bringing their families with them. When I look at the school in the budget, they see that we are adequately funding education, and they’ll want to bring their families with them.”
Crocker says he wants more collaboration among non-profits providing services, and more transparency in borough operations. If he had to pull funding from somewhere else, he would look into cutting the Solid Waste Division.
Tammie Wilson served on the Assembly before and in the Alaska State Legislature. Her priority for funding is the borough-wide emergency services.
“Ambulance Service. I just want to make sure there’s a distinction between ambulance and fire service. Fire service areas — each pays for those. We are borough-wide when it comes to ambulances; we are not paying our fair share at this point.”
Wilson said revenue could come from increased land sales to put public land into private hands.
Chris Ludtke says he wants to eliminate most government.
“I’m running to end government theft. If everyone was allowed to keep their income at all levels, property tax, income tax, the economy would be a lot healthier, more small businesses would be successful.”
Ludtke made a surprise announcement at the end of the event, saying he would vote for Tammie Wilson, but he would keep advocating for no taxes.
The municipal election is Tuesday, October 6.