ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Editor's Note: It was misreported in the 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. March 13th newscasts that Paul Kendall did not show up at the candidate forum, when in reality it was Jacob Kern who was not present.
Inside the Dena'ina Center in downtown Anchorage, the Rotary Club held a Mayoral Candidate Forum to question and better understand the positions of those running to become the city’s new leader. The two biggest topics at the forum centered around crime and a Proposition 1, which would mandate that if people enter a restroom they must use the bathroom that matches their sex at birth. All questions were submitted to the moderator of the forum by Rotarian's.
Here's a sampling of the questions and answers:
Moderator: Please explain your position on Proposition 1?
Matthew Mendonsa/Mayoral Candidate: Abuse is already taking place in our city and if it becomes law there will be wide spread abuse.
Rebecca Logan/Mayoral Candidate: Somebody will win and somebody will lose and thousands of Anchorage residents will not feel safe because of that. So I look forward to the opportunity to sitting down with both groups and trying to craft a public policy that will accommodate the majority of concerns from both groups.
Paul Kendall/Mayoral Candidate: Well I'm going to vote yes and for me it's a fundamental moral. The reason is it's a fundamental moral position and I don't care to have the discussion equivocate here. This is not the time nor the place and the reason is this is yet another symptom of the failure of our leadership.
Dustin Darden/Mayoral Candidate: You were made a certain way by our creator for a certain reason for a certain purpose.
Ethan Berkowitz/Mayoral Candidate: A strong no because there's no room for discrimination in our community. This is a divisive proposition that doesn't solve a problem but creates one.
Moderator: What specific steps will you take to counter the increase in crime in our community? And how will you measure success?
Timothy Huit/Mayoral Candidate: First thing I'd deploy officers into the neighborhoods, which I called for in 2015. We'd also do proactive police enforcement on the traffic unit, get out and pull people over that's where the warrants are and the guns.
Nelson Godoy/Mayoral Candidate: Repeal SB 91 that's one of the biggest problems that we have in the city. Second is to give the police department all that they need to accomplish their work the other thing that I will do is empower the police department to work more with the community.
Ethan Berkowitz/Mayoral Candidate: What we've done is increase the size of the police department so we can have specialty units restored, we put patrols into neighborhoods that we weren't able to do when we were understaffed, and we’ve changed municipal ordinances so we have the capacity to deal with things like spice and people riding around in stolen vehicles.
Ron Stafford/Mayoral Candidate: We need assistance for them in the simple community policing. That needs to be done. If something is seen they call in a policeman to take care of the situation. But they can stop it on the scene before it gets involved.
Rebecca Logan/Mayoral Candidate: We're no longer in a scenario where the police are first responders, the communities are first responders. And many have ideas about what they can do to protect themselves and are interested in funding that. So we should work to help them with that. The second thing is to quit tolerating all of the low level crime we're letting hundreds of crimes go un-prosecuted.
Many of the candidates seemed to support future potential efforts to further consolidate both the Municipality of Anchorage and the Anchorage School District. Logan seemed to float the idea of contracting some services with the private sector, which she believes could help some businesses during the state’s economic recession. Mayor Berkowitz highlighted shared services agreements already in place with JBER, UAA, the state and the school district including risk management, fleet maintenance and healthcare.
Unlike consolidation of the city and ASD, the majority of the candidates spoke out against a $1 billion buyout of Municipal Light & Power. Logan said as a former Chugach Electric Board Member for two terms she was disappointed, as she claims, Chugach Electric has used their campaign promoting the buyout to promote current Mayor Berkowitz and his position on the topic. Berkowitz stressed the deal as a once in a chance opportunity that will be not just good for the city but also rate payers and encouraged the audience to view the public information available on the proposed buyout for themselves.