Joshua WarrenAge: 31
Family: Guy and Peg Warren, Parents
Occupation: Economist for the Department of Labor & Workforce Development
Current Community Involvement: President of Non-Profit, Platypus Gaming. Former President of Capital City Quilters
Hobbies/Interests: Board Games; Quilting; and local, state, and federal government
Positions on Juneau Issues
According to a 2012 Juneau Economic Development Council report, the capital city needed to add about 700 fair market homes or rental units and nearly 450 subsidized rental units to achieve a healthy housing market. What can the Assembly do to encourage new housing development that meets the needs of Juneau residents?
So far there’s definitely work in the Switzer area and the Peterson hill area that are already moving forward to try to dispose of some land for future development. I think we need to be really careful to make sure the land gets developed but to also that it’s a relatively condensed development to allow more houses per square foot. There’s some land already being developed I think on West Juneau. I think we also need to find incentives to provide people to expand. People have a lot of empty land.
What are your thoughts on a Housing First facility in Juneau, where chronic inebriates can live and access services, such as Karluk Manor in Anchorage? What role, if any, should the city play in pursuing such a facility?
We have a lot of services already for the homeless, but a lot of those services don’t allow you use those services if you’re under the influence of alcohol. They wind up using facilities like the library just get out of the cold and to get warm. I think it would increase the safety of downtown, especially in the evening, if they have somewhere safe to go. I think simply because of how much overhead such a program would have I think the city is going to have to take some level of financial responsibility toward making it happen with the help of non-profits.
Recently a group called the Downtown Improvement Group (DIG) organized a cleanup day in Juneau. What solutions would you offer to make the center of Juneau a better place for residents and visitors alike?
I’m really happy that downtown business owners are already taking the first steps. There are things the assembly can do and there are things they can’t. They can’t force private business owners to make themselves look nice. They can incentivize it but the business owners really need to be taking those steps and I’m happy they are. Regarding downtown, I think the big first step and I’m happy to see progress is being made, is the Gastineau Apartments need to be dealt with either by being renovated by the current owner or by eminent domain or something to that effect to get a big moldy, old building back into use. Other than that, I think there’s definitely incentives they can give business owners downtown to help it and we need to try to find ways to use buildings that are empty for half the year.
Transportation & Infrastructure
What’s your take on the Juneau Access Project (aka the Road)?
I’ve always been personally against the road. I think with the state fiscal situation and the city fiscal situation, I don’t think it’s something that either can afford right now. I think that while it would have some decent economic impact on town, I think that money can be spent in a way in town to get a better return on the value.
For years, the city pursued a second crossing between Juneau and Douglas Island. In 2010, Juneau voters rejected a local bond measure that would have paid for the project, and it has not been as high a priority since. Do you support the second crossing, and if so how should it be financed?
I definitely approve of a second crossing. I think it would definitely open up the North Douglas and West Douglas area for development. I personally voted no however on the last second crossing because it was essentially paving the wetlands. I think it needs to be logically looked at and has little environmental impact or a lot less than the last one did. I would think that kind of financing possibly a temporary sales tax.
CBJ BudgetThe CBJ’s finance experts are projecting multi-million dollar budget shortfalls in upcoming fiscal years. How would you address the shortfalls?
Which city services are your priorities to maintain?
The city needs to maintain its emergency services and its fully funding of schools. Those are the two top priorities the city should have. I think recreation needs to be able to fund itself better, not in the black but a lot closer. I think we need to look at more revenue generation instead of cutting city services.
For the first time in years, the Assembly this year did not fund Juneau schools to the maximum amount allowed under state law. Do you categorically support funding to the cap? Why or why not?
As a student who was born in Juneau, raised in Juneau and educated in Juneau, probably the top priority for me in running for Assembly is fully funding schools. So yes, I categorically support fully funding education. One of the main reasons I decided to run is that this is the first year in a long time we haven’t and I think outside of emergency services I think it’s the first duty of the city is to fully fund education.
The Assembly has hired a consultant to come up with a Juneau Economic Development Plan. What ideas do you have to diversify Juneau’s economy?
I think we definitely need to work on incentivizing industries to come to Juneau. There has been some talk that people should come here if they’re doing jobs that can be done anywhere. Part of the problem with that is that if they can work anywhere they’re going to work somewhere where it’s cheaper to live. I think the big thing we can do to expand what industries come to our town and get created in our town is to lower the price of retail and residential space.
How do you feel about the city facilitating the reopening of the AJ Mine?
When that came up last election cycle it was interesting to hear that they were looking at reopening the AJ. But I think as long as the AJ has any chance of having any spill off go into one of our important water supplies I don’t think I can support it without being really afraid that we’re going to lose our quality water.
In 2013, Juneau police seized nearly $2 million in illegal drugs and drug money. What can the Assembly do to curb drug use in Juneau?
I think drug use is definitely a problem in Juneau and I think they’re doing a lot to stem the tide, both with working with the federal authorities to track the drugs as it comes into town. Other than that I think the only thing we can do is encourage the police to work further. I think it’s a hard problem to solve because it’s somewhat easy to hide, but I think continued enforcement, especially on the harder, more prevalent drugs like methamphetamines, need to really be looked at prioritized.
Voter turnout in Juneau has been abysmal for several years. The city has not seen more than 50 percent of voters participate in a municipal elections in 20 years. As a prospective city official, what can be done to increase civic engagement?
I think there’s a lot of opportunity for public comment and there’s still a lot of people who already enjoy that. I think if we advertise public comment and put the word out more that people can come in, that would increase civic engagement. One of the big things I want to try to encourage, in every election at least for the last four, I’ve early voted. I think that if there were big events that the city endorsed, people actually going out and voting early instead of just on the voting day, you’ll get all the people who normally vote on the you’ll also get all the people who can’t make it or forget. I think expanding the how much time people have to vote is really great.
XTRATUFs or Bogs?
I would love to say XTRATUFs but sadly with how long and tall my feet are they just would never fit.