The first candidate forum of the season drew 5 people running for Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly and 2 for Fairbanks city council. The annual Interior Taxpayers Association hosted forum focused on local government’s response to state funding cuts.
In response to audience members’ questions about the candidates proposals to increase the Fairbanks North Star Borough’s tax cap, three of the five Assembly candidates – Hank Bartos, Ryan Smith and Aaron Lojewski – oppose changing the cap and favor cutting the borough budget instead.
The other two, Jerry McBeath and Robert Shields, talked about the need for flexibility to protect funding for education and other services.
On the city side, incumbent council members running unopposed, Jerry Cleworth and David Pruhs, both oppose a ballot measure to boost city property taxes to make up for lost state funding.
Audience members also asked candidates about city and borough ballot measures to banning l marijuana businesses. Cleworth favors a city ban, while Pruhs is opposed.
Assembly candidates Bartos and Smith favor a borough ban, while McBeath and Shields voiced opposition, and Lojewski said he saw merit in arguments for and against.
At the end of the forum, ITA members voted to endorse Batos, Smith and Lojewski, and both the city and borough ballot propositions to outlaw commercial/retail marijuana businesses.