Juneau has a diverse economy, but COVID-19 displayed vulnerabilities and ways we can work to improve resilience in our community. Tourism, mining, fishing and the arts and culture are all strengths for our city. Continuing to build out these sectors will help secure long-term resiliency while also making Juneau a more attractive place to visit and live.
Sealaska Heritage Institute is working to create a downtown arts campus, with the goal of cementing Juneau’s reputation as the Pacific Northwest Arts Capital of the world. I am proud to have voted to support this project in my seat on the Sealaska Board of Directors. This is one example of how centering our Alaska Native culture can create an epicenter of Indigenous resilience, celebration, and visitor attraction.
A combined JACC and Centennial Hall renovation will provide an opportunity to book artists, conventions, and provide space that again serves Juneauites as well as out of town visitors. Our community is a hub, and the spokes stretch across Southeast Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. This can serve as an opportunity to attract more independent travelers.
I support many of the actions Juneau is considering, such as the thoughtful mixed use development zoning. This is something enacted by many other parts of Alaska, and allows light commercial development-shops, studios, retail-to exist alongside medium density apartments and condos. This is an opportunity to help address the high costs of commercial real estate as well as our housing shortage.
The construction of a 2nd crossing to North Douglas would be an important step in unlocking new land, something which our city possesses but currently cannot access. North Douglas is an opportunity for Juneau to thoughtfully expand our access to housing as well as providing new opportunities for commerce. New ports could help relieve congestion downtown from cruise and commercial traffic, and create pedestrian friendly zones. Such a measure is feasible given the current federal and national interest in infrastructure and a low interest environment. This is a transformative project that is both feasible and practical
I support a kitchen sink approach to expanding access to housing. This needs to be done in a thoughtful and careful manner, but it is also one of the most urgent needs facing our community. I support private development of new homes and housing, but believe the city should be an active partner in advancing the public interest. I am interested in learning more about other models such as the Sitka Community Land Trust, which follows models found elsewhere in the nation that help bring down the cost of housing and provide first generation home buyers the ability to own a home, and build equity. This is a gateway to the middle class. In North Douglas, the city owns much land and should explore similar partnerships with the Alaska Housing Development Corporation and the Tlingit and Haida Housing Authority to incentivize development to help young families and all residents of Juneau.
Other partnerships such as Juneau’s High School Homebuild provide good opportunities for students interested in our building trades, and is one more way to keep and retain students here in Juneau while also helping to lower our cost of living. Expansion of housing while training our future workforce is a win-win-win for the public.
There is a bridge to be built between our Indigenous entities and our City. I know I can help build the bridge between our entities to increase the communication and opportunities that can grow from our governments working together. Tlingit and Haida Housing Authority has communicated the impediments some of our CBJ ordinances have had on their ability to develop affordable housing. I would like to see our leadership focus on opportunities to strengthen these relationships and to identify community supported solutions.
Finally, commercial mixed use zoning is another tool to help construction and affordability of medium density housing and light retail and commercial space.
Homelessness and addiction are a symptom of a larger problem. My mother worked as a drug and alcohol counselor for 25 years and I’ve listened to her express the greater need to address the trauma before you can truly begin the healing. I understand the important role behavioral health and addiction recovery can have in the space of healing. I am inspired and motivated by the creation of the new shelter in the Mendenhall Valley, and the important connection between services and shelter.
I support and am excited to see the expansion of the Rainforest Recovery Center in Bartlett Hospital. Our community hospital here is an important component of our social safety net, and the expanded mental health beds there will provide important support for our family and neighbors in crisis. I will continue to work with both our community hospital as well as partners such as Tlingit & Haida to provide a continuum of care that ensures the most vulnerable in our society do not fall between the cracks. Nobody should suffer for lack of access to care in Juneau.
Investing in our healthcare workforce: Under Governor Walker, Alaska’s Medicaid Expansion saw an estimated 40,000 Alaskans get access to health insurance for the first time. This means that they had access to preventative care, many for the first time in their lives, and are less likely to face medical or personal bankruptcy. I am proud of that achievement. These patients help pay for important middle class jobs, including nurses, nursing assistants, physicians assistants and dental assistants.
I would support any measure the City of Juneau can do to work with UAS to provide local training and education for our neighbors for these important fields. All too often, health care providers must hire expensive out of state travel nurses-this hurts us both financially and economically when the job goes to someone from out of state who will eventually leave, and providers must pay a premium for their salary. Nationwide, such staff are in short supply. I believe we can work together to ensure Juneauites can be employed and take care of our neighbors and families.
Finally, housing is healthcare. I support services that can allow people to heal. As a society, we know that housing first can work well. In places like Abeleine, Texas and Phoenix AZ, targeted approaches to housing first has led to successes such as a “functional zero” population of homeless veterans. It serves our neighbors and family members better and also saves the city and state money.
History is clear: when governments do not reflect the people they serve, they do not serve the people. I obviously do not speak for all Alaska Native people, but my worldview is one of an Alaska Native woman and I will use my relationships to bring in additional voices to the decision-making process, and stay true to the values. My perspective is rooted in my Haida, Tlingit and Ahtna Athabascan ancestry, and I will not hold back from offering that perspective.
We need to see all communities, identity intersections, and segments of our fellow community members be healthy so we can all rise and thrive together. Juneau’s Assembly should mirror this reality - let’s put our diversity into action, invite our unique strengths and wisdom from across our community, and govern together for abundance. I hope to use my voice to empower others to participate in democracy, and to help create a better and more just community.
Equity recognizes that we are not all starting from the same place, but that we should meet each individual where they are at and help every individual rise. Equality treats everyone the same and presumes that we are all starting from the same place. Dr. E.J. David discusses this in his article, Inequality, Equality, and Equity.
I believe that all Alaskans should receive equity, and that all Alaskans are entitled to certain, basic human rights. While Juneau has made improvements to bridge the equity gap, there is further to go. As a member of Juneau's Assembly, I would prioritize working to bridge this gap.
A key factor in making Juneau an affordable place to raise a family is the cost of child care. Studies show us again and again that the most formative years of our lives are ages 0-5. Early education, and quality child care, has a transformative impact on a child’s growth into an independent and healthy resident and neighbor. I support the CBJ’s innovative approach to improving access to care, and support the creation of a 5 year plan to continue this work into the future. President Biden has made clear his interest in child care as part of human infrastructure, and we should work to advance access to care with our state, federal and tribal partners.
Climate change is real and manmade. Every year, we keep seeing the increasingly dramatic effects of climate change. Storms in Southeast Alaska mean heavier rainfall and higher risk of avalanches, mud slides, flooding or other dangers. Warmer temperatures mean fluctuations in fish runs and can have a devastating effect on families. Beyond addressing immediate issues, we should continue to prioritize long term solutions to this problem, and ensure that solutions are proposed in a manner that protects all members of the Juneau community.
I support the electrification of our public transportation systems in Juneau. This could include tour buses, city buses, and even ferries or other forms of transport. As a member of the Juneau Assembly, I would support policies to reduce reliance on fossil fuels in our public transportation systems. There are partnerships at the state and federal level the Assembly should pursue to make this cost effective and practical.
I believe as we look to the future, we should include all voices in discussions as to how to sustain and preserve our environment. Alaska is my home, and has been the home of my ancestors for over 10,000 years, or rather, nearly 500 generations. We were taught not to waste anything and to live in a balanced way with the world around us. I’m honored to sit on the Sealaska Board where we have made the deliberate decision to invest in line with our Indigenous ways of being. To include the shutting down of our timber operations. Whatever I have been able to accomplish in my life, has been because my Ancestors, Elders, and community leaders and members have made it possible.
So often when we talk about changes to the environment, Native voices are left out of the conversation - even though they have been stewards of this land for thousands of years. As a member of the Juneau Assembly, I would work to ensure that Indigenous experts and individuals are at the table as we look to the future.
I’m so thankful we live in a community that celebrates our LGBTQIA2S community. The strength of our diversity and inclusion enhances the well-being of all of Juneau. I believe in the right to equality for all people in Juneau. Discrimination in any form is unacceptable. I will continue to support any policy that uplifts the equal rights of Juneauites and oppose legislation that does not protect those rights.