Wanamaker wants to return to Assembly after hiatus


Randy Wanamaker

Randy Wanamaker – Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO News

Randy Wanamaker says he served in the Alaska and Washington National Guard — briefly activated, but never deployed during the Cuban Missile Crisis and start of Vietnam — followed by a stint in the Army Reserve. During World War II, Wanamaker’s father was an infantryman.

“My a dad was a professional soldier,” says Wanamaker. “He survived it all from the very first day of the invasion of North Africa to the last days in Czechoslovakia.”

And then, there was his uncle in the Coast Guard in the Pacific.

“He was one of the guys who survived the invasion of Tarawa. He went ahead of the first wave.”

Because of that connection, he says he’s continued volunteering for activities or taken to heart issues important to veterans and Southeast Alaska natives.

“My grandfather was Kiksadi from Sitka, of the Frog clan, and my grandmother was Killer Whale, Kaagwaantaan of Sitka.” Wanamaker says they moved to Juneau in 1922 to help set up ANB Camp 2 in Juneau.

Wanamaker calls himself a grandchild of Angoon; tracing his family to Killisnoo as well as through two lines to civil rights activist Elizabeth Peratovich. Born in Juneau, Wanamaker grew up in Seattle and eventually returned to Juneau after the National Guard and college studying physical geology. One of his first jobs as a young geologist included monitoring Mt. St. Helens before and during the big explosive eruption of 1980. He later worked as a subsurface resource manager for Sealaska corporation. Today, he runs a vocational training and outreach service that prepares potential employees for work at the Kensington Mine, and he serves as vice-chairman of the Goldbelt corporation board of directors.

His wife is a teacher and he has four children either in college or recently graduated.

After three consecutive terms on the CBJ Assembly, Wanamaker was required to step aside a year ago.

“I enjoy public service. I enjoyed my time on the school board, and I enjoyed my time on the various city and state committees that I’ve served on.”

Wanamaker says others have encouraged him to run again because of issues like the CBJ budget and solid waste management, even so far as possibly reclaiming the landfill and turning waste into energy.

“We need an amendment to the regulatory act to allow us to have (regulatory) responsibility.”

Wanamaker also says residents are worried about a potential collapse of property values, to the point that they could be underwater on the mortgage.

“We can work to diversify our economy and employment base so that any downtown in any particular area isn’t very damaging to our community.”

That includes holding NOAA to an earlier commitment about employing new researchers at the Point Lena fisheries laboratory, and foster more cooperation with regional health organizations.

Wanamaker says the AJ Mine should be allowed to open if it’s determined that it would be economically and environmentally viable.

“If there’s a need to protect, move or supplement our water supply system,” says Wanamaker, “the city can do that because it will have the funds to do it.”

Wanamaker will vote for the extension of the 3-percent sales tax, but he would like to see an exemption for food and doesn’t want to make the temporary taxes permanent.

“I think we need to find other ways of raising revenue or increasing revenues,” says Wanamaker, who wants to focus on starter home development to increase the property tax base.

And he won’t vote for the plastic bag tax.

“I applaud them for bringing this issue to the surface so that we can discuss it.” But Wanamaker says it’s going to hurt most those with the least amount of money.

He favors the city alternative to state financial disclosure rules. Wanamaker believes there’s too much potential for fraud and abuse for publically-posted information, and state requirements would discourage good, competent candidates.

“This seems to single out a category of people and – say – we will take away your right to privacy here,” says Wanamaker. “I think that’s wrong.”

Randy Wanamaker is the only candidate running for the assembly representing District 2. That includes the Mendenhall Valley and all of Juneau north of the airport.