ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Channel 2's Municipal reporter Jack Carney sat down with the candidates for Anchorage mayor to talk about their priorities. Here is his interview with challenger Rebecca Logan:
Channel 2's Jack Carney: What are your top priorities if you're elected?
Rebecca Logan: My top priority is crime. That's what compelled me to run for office because I was a victim of crime and almost everybody I know has been a victim of crime and I believe that public safety is the number one role of government, so obviously there's a lot of room for improvement there. And then secondary to crime is the economy. We're just coming out of a recession, hopefully we're going to come out of a recession, but a lot of that depends on what the government does here in Anchorage. This isn't a time to be adding taxes on individuals who are already suffering or on businesses who are struggling.
Jack Carney: We've seen a record number of murders, we've seen a record number of car thefts. What will you do to combat that?
Rebecca Logan: Well there are two things that we have to do about crime. The first thing we have to do is make changes to the state law that allows us to have more local control. And people like to say that we can't do anything about it because of the state law. But that's just not true I've spent the last 15 years of my life lobbying and advocating for state law and I know that you can make changes if you need to. And so right now we need to make changes to the pre-trial assessment tool that we're using so that when police officers arrest somebody that person if they are a threat to our society that person can be kept in jail until their trial. Tight now they don't have the ability to do that. The second thing that we need to do is to stop tolerating so many of the lower level crimes. We're letting petty theft, and vandalism, and car theft, and shoplifting literally go unpunished. And that leads to nowhere but more crime and so in order to take care of that we have the ability to establish stiffer penalties for misdemeanors so that we can punish people who are committing crimes.
Jack Carney: What can you do to help the Anchorage School District, students, teachers, administrators when it comes to budget problems?
Rebecca Logan: I hope to be a great partner to the Superintendent that we have in the school district right now she's a great lady Deena Bishop. And I have a lot of respect for her. So the role that a Mayor can play in that is helping to control the budget. School bonds come and go and sometimes they pass, sometimes they don't. And if people really feel like the budget isn't being controlled they're not going to vote for the school bonds. They have to faith that their money is being used wisely. So working with the school district on the budget and making sure that people are confident in that. Also, focusing on the teachers, you know all the teachers who live in our community. We spend a lot of money on the school district and in my opinion the majority of those funds should be spent in the classroom with the teachers so that they can do their job. And so I would be happy to participate in any efforts to prioritize spending so that more is spent in the classroom.
Jack Carney: The city has a homelessness problem. It's been a problem for many years. What would you do to address it in a tough but also tolerant way?
Rebecca Logan: The first thing that people have to recognize is that you're never going to solve homelessness, right? You'll never completely eradicate the city of homeless people. I look at it in three categories. You have people who are temporarily down on their luck who have either just lost a job or maybe lost an apartment and they need a little bit of help to get back on their feet and I see a real faith-based opportunity there. The congregation that I attend has wanted to have a program where they can help people like that. Then you have the group of homeless people who have mental health issues and that's the group that I am concerned about the most those are people who are never going to be able to take care of themselves, right? They'll never be able to protect themselves and they'll never be able to take care of themselves. That's where I see the most need for government resources allocating resources to care for those people. The third group are the people who are breaking the law. They're camping illegally on public or private property. There's a lot of crime that happens in those camps and they're a threat to themselves and a threat to the public. And we have laws on the books right now that allow us to move people who are illegally trespassing and those laws have to be enforced.
Jack Carney: You were once a Chugach Electric Board Member. You've said that the Proposition 10, a merger between ML&P and Chugach is not right for Anchorage. Why do you believe that?
Rebecca Logan: When I chaired the Chugach Board for two terms we were always looking at consolidation with the thought that ending duplication would save ratepayer money. So, I believe that consolidation is a good path but it has to be done correctly. And so when the first thing you say is that nobody is going to lose their job anybody in the private sector knows that you've just taken away 75% of your opportunity for actual reduction, right? But the process hasn't been followed here. And Bill Falsey the city manager said at the assembly meeting when somebody asked him about that 'You know you haven't followed the process and people are really distrustful' and he said so we've got a lot of public distrust that's not that big of a deal.
And I disagree, I think if you're going to move forward with something this significant you have to follow the process that the charter tells you to follow. And the public has to trust the decision you're making. It's a billion-dollar deal. And so we need to start over again and we need to follow the law. Changing the threshold of the vote has again added to that public distrust. And you can't go down that path without showing good reason why you're doing it and letting people know when in advance that you're going to do that. So the entire process has been really sketchy I think and we just need to start over.