Michelle Bonnet Hale
Candidate for District 2 Assembly
Jim Hale, husband
Semi-retired; art dealer
Director, Division of Water, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, 2011-2017; Deputy Director, Division of Water, DEC 2010-2011; Juneau Rotary, Juneau Symphony player and board member, Juneau Student Symphony player
Master of Science
Do you support additional city funding for a new building to house the Juneau Arts and Culture Center?
Pay down debt, savings.
I’m a lifelong Alaskan and lived most of my life in Juneau. And I’ve long wanted to serve at the local level, either work for the city or serve on the Assembly, something like that. I’ve had some pretty demanding jobs, and I just couldn’t reconcile the really demanding job, like a director position with the state, with trying to serve on the Assembly.
So I can do that now, I’ve got the time and the availability now, I don’t have those other demands, and I want to just jump in and see what I can do to help the city.
I was at the meetings when the Best Starts initiative was voted down from appearing on the ballot. And I felt that — I was at both meetings — and there were a lot of disappointed people in the room.
I know child care has been a problem for a very, very long time. I supervise many people, young mothers for example that had infants, and, just — it was a nightmare for them.
I support putting it on the ballot. I also acknowledge there are costs associated with that. And it’s the job of the Assembly to be creative and work with the people of Juneau to balance those costs, to find a way of paying for something like the Best Starts program. Perhaps that’s not exactly the right one, but something like that, where people actually have options for child care if they need them.
The Assembly has just approved of a new ambulance crew for the fire department. And I think that was 361,000 (dollars). And I kind of liken the job of the Assembly to operating a great big checkbook. So, all those things that we need, that money has to come from somewhere. Sales tax revenue is up somewhat with the increase in tourism or the increase in tour ship passengers. …We also have sources of revenue like property taxes. We’re going to be retiring some debt. We don’t want to take on more debt willy-nilly, we have to be very aware of costs, but it’s really kind of a variety of sources. …
And we also just have to, as a community, evaluate things that have been here for a long time, and do we want to keep doing those? You know, what’s more important: Is it more important to deal with the addiction that we’ve got? Is it more important to hire more police officers? Or is it more important to keep other things in place?
Boy, that’s a tough one. I was at the Affordable Housing Commission yesterday and there’s a lot of people really working at it. I know that the city has looked at and actually passed some ordinances that provide for higher density or provide for relaxing some of the rules, for example, creating mother-in-law apartments.
I think it is going to take kind of a concerted effort. There’s also the option of, you know, reducing some of the property taxes, for example, to encourage development. So we’re just getting started and we need to pursue that aggressively. It’s great that we have someone like the housing coordinator Scott Ciambor and Irene Gallion that works with him (on) housing and homelessness, that’s really good and that’s really important. We need to really do what we can to let them help us, basically, and work together as a community.