The Ketchikan Daily News http://www.ketchikandailynews.com/ www.ketchikandailynews.com Ketchikan Daily News Headlines Copyright The Ketchikan Daily News 2008. All Rights Reserved. urn:publicid:ketchikandailynews.com:110247521 Election 2016 2016-09-30T19:30:49Z 2016-09-30T19:07:01Z Copyright Ketchikan Daily News 2008. All Rights Reserved. KETCHIKAN (KDN) — The 2016 local municipal elections are Tuesday. Voters will be deciding which candidates will fill open seats on the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly, Ketchikan School Board, Ketchikan City Council and Saxman City Council. Ketchikan Gateway Borough Mayor David Landis is the sole candidate for the open three-year borough mayor term on the ballot. Two borough propositions are also on the ballot. Proposition 1 would establish an excise tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products. Proposition 2 would extend the existing 0.5 percent sales tax that’s dedicated to bondable school capital projects and insurance on school buildings and facilities. The Daily News has interviewed Assembly, School Board and Ketchikan City Council candidates. Profiles of the School Board candidates — Kim Hodne, Trevor Shaw, Conan Steele and write-in candidate Kevin Johnson — and City Council candidates Judy Zenge, Julie Isom and Spencer Strassburg, are below in today’s edition. Profiles of Assembly candidates Rodney Dial, Judith McQuerry, Susan Pickrell, Keith Smith and Dave Timmerman will be published in the Weekend Edition of Oct. 1-2. The Assembly, School Board and Ketchikan City Council each have two, three-year seats available in the 2016 election. The  Saxman City Council has three, three-year seats open. Candidates on the ballot are Sylvia Banie, Gabriella Daniels, Trudi Swink and Caryl Williams. Harvey Shields has advised that he will be running as a write-in candidate, according to City of Saxman information. See "Election 2016: City Council" and "Election 2016: School Board" under Ketchikan Headlines. Southern Alaska Staff Writer Election 2016 The Ketchikan Daily News urn:publicid:ketchikandailynews.com:13324508 Change 4 Usable urn:publicid:ketchikandailynews.com:110247533 Election 2016: City Council 2016-09-30T19:32:28Z 2016-09-30T19:24:52Z Copyright Ketchikan Daily News 2008. All Rights Reserved. Stories by Matt Armstrong Julie Isom A Ketchikan City Council member is running for re-election because she doesn’t feel like one year was enough time to be on the council. That, and because she likes to stay busy. Julie Isom, 53, is the general manager of the Ketchikan Title Agency and has two adult children. She’s lived in Ketchikan for about eight years, and in Thorne Bay before coming to the First City. Isom was elected to fill a vacant, one-year term in October 2015, and she’s been elected to office in Thorne Bay in the past. “I’m not a politician, and I don’t go out and campaign for money,” Isom said Tuesday. “ ... I can listen to both sides (of an issue) and make decisions based on that. I am in a lot of circles in Ketchikan, so I hear from a lot of people. I’m not afraid to walk through the grocery store at 5:15 in the evening when I know everyone is going to be there, and (people) will come up to me and tell me what their passion is on a subject on the agenda, or something for me to look into, and I don’t shy away from that.” Isom is running for a three-year seat, and she thinks state budget problems will trickle-down to the city’s finances during that time. “I would like to keep an eye on that,” Isom said. “I do think we still need to make some cuts within the city, and I want to be a part of the budget process. I also want to be a part of the (community) grants committee. I have a passion for that, and I want to make sure they get all the money we can possibly give to them.” While she would like to see new infrastructure projects in Ketchikan, budget limitations likely will restrict the city to maintaining what it has, according to Isom. One project Isom would like the city to look into is installing commercial and residential water meters, so that customers are paying “their fair share,” she said. Earlier this year, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly voted to stop its portion of funding for the city-owned Ketchikan Public Library before reconsidering the motion and voting to approve funding. The Assembly has had discussions about reducing or cutting library funding in the past as well. If the borough did stop funding the library or significantly reduce its contributions, Isom would want the city to explore options to keep the library open. “I think there’s a large majority of the city that uses it and supports it, and I think there would be such an uproar if we did drastically cut the hours at the library. Every time I’ve been up there, it’s been well-used and very busy.” City staff recently conducted meetings to solicit public input on future improvements to the city’s port. Larger cruise ships are scheduled to come into the Alaska market over the next five to 15 years, and the city is considering ways to suit both the larger vessels and the increased number of passengers that will come ashore. Concerns were raised at the meetings about the city’s ability to accommodate more tourists, and what effect potentially larger cruise ship berths would have on local boaters and commercial fishing fleets. The city likely won’t be able to expand Berth 1 without having a negative impact on commercial fishing vessels and private boats that use the water around Thomas Basin, according to Isom. “I don’t think it’s a decision we’re going to have to make this year,” Isom said, adding that tourism will continue to be a large part of Ketchikan’s economy. The City of Ketchikan recently took ownership of the Fifth Avenue building that housed the now closed Ketchikan Regional Youth Facility. Isom said she likes the idea of the building being used as a shelter for either youths or homeless residents, and that the city needs to find a way to put the building to use. In addition to Isom, current Council Member Judy Zenge and Spencer Strassburg are running for the two open seats. The local election will be held Tuesday, with polls open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Spencer Strassburg A candidate for Ketchikan City Council feels he can bring good leadership to the council and city. Spencer Strassburg, 49, has lived in Ketchikan for more than 20 years. He and his long-time partner Julie Steiner have five children and have fostered others. Strassburg ran unsuccessfully for City Council in October 2015, and he is seeking a three-year term in this election. While Strassburg has previously said he’s the owner of three businesses — The Fox Hole, Alaskan Pipeline and Southeast Fence Specialists — the sole owner on the business licenses is Steiner. “When I’m at work, I don’t call myself the boss, and I don’t say I’m the owner. I’m the leader,” Strassburg said Wednesday. “ ... I’ve never wanted to be the owner, and so it’s hard for me to define what my title really is. “ ... Legally, on the books, as far as the licensings goes, Julie is the boss,” he added. Issues the council will have to address over the next three years include dwindling state money and the loss of state jobs locally, according to Strassburg. “Also, I think the marijuana issue is still going to be at the forefront,” Strassburg said. “I think this new and emerging industry is problematic to look at, especially with a lack of experience. That would probably be something I could certainly bring to the (council).” Earlier this year, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly voted to stop its portion of funding for the city-owned Ketchikan Public Library before reconsidering the motion and voting to approve funding. The Assembly has had discussions about reducing or cutting library funding in the past as well. If the borough did stop funding the library or significantly reduce its contributions, Strassburg thinks the city would have to increase its funding of the library. “We can only reduce operations so much,” Strassburg said. “ ... Ultimately, if the borough should back out of that end of the responsibility, the city will have to pick up that end of the stick. We can’t have a big facility up there that we just leave the lights off and don’t have anyone come around because we’re unwilling to fund it anymore. We took on that responsibility, it’s in the city, (and) ultimately it will probably fall to us.” He added that the city and borough need to discuss and formalize the borough’s long-term commitment to the library. City staff recently conducted meetings to solicit public input on future improvements to the city’s port. Larger cruise ships are scheduled to come into the Alaska market over the next five to 15 years, and the city is considering ways to suit both the larger vessels and the increased number of passengers that will come ashore. Concerns were raised at the meetings about the city’s ability to accommodate more tourists, and what effect potentially larger cruise ship berths would have on local boaters and commercial fishing fleets. Expansion of the city’s cruise ship berths is the primary capital project Strassburg thinks the city will have to address in the coming years, and he’d like to see that work funded — at least in part — by commercial passenger vessel tax funds. “I don’t see any way around accommodating those bigger ships,” Strassburg said. “That is our big, main industry, and we have to stay on the forefront of that, and we know that’s what’s coming. We’re going to have to prepare for that. ... We should be able to tap those tourist head tax funds in order to do that kind of thing.” Strassburg added that he thinks there’s room for additional development on land that could help accommodate the increased number of tourists coming with the larger ships. “I thought about 20 years ago that Disneyland was full,” Strassburg said. “Well, I went back to Disneyland this last summer, (and) it’s gotten fuller. They’ve figured out how to expedite more people, move people to different lines. That’s the kind of thinking we’re going to have to do.” The City of Ketchikan recently took ownership of the Fifth Avenue building that housed the now closed Ketchikan Regional Youth Facility. Strassburg thinks it would be best for the city to look at ways to either lease or sell the building in order for it to be put to use without the city being involved in day-to-day operations. In addition to Strassburg, current council members Judy Zenge and Julie Isom are running for the two open seats. The local election will be held Tuesday, with polls open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Judy Zenge A current Ketchikan City Council member is running for re-election to a three-year term, and she feels that her first term was a good learning opportunity. Judy Zenge, 59, has lived in Ketchikan for about 17 years and has a husband and two sons. She manages The Plaza mall and is a partner in the court reporting and legal services business, SEAK Professional Services LLC. Zenge was elected to a three-year term on the council in October 2013. “I think now that I have more experience, I have more to offer,” Zenge said Thursday. “ ... I’m a hard worker, (and) I can ask the tough questions. I’m not easily intimidated, and I think I do a pretty good job.” Issues related to state budget problems will affect Ketchikan in the coming years, and local budget questions such as overtime expenses also will come before the council. Local issues the council will face include building a better relationship with the unions that represent city employees and finding ways to improve morale among city workers, according to Zenge. With less money available from the state for capital projects, the city and council will have to “keep our pennies in our pockets,” Zenge said. “I would like to see us rate all of our capital projects, like we do when we send them to the state, and pick the ones that are absolutely necessary,” Zenge said. “ ... We might want, but we’ll have to deal with what we need.” Earlier this year, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly voted to stop its portion of funding for the city-owned Ketchikan Public Library before reconsidering the motion and voting to approve funding. The Assembly has had discussions about reducing or cutting library funding in the past as well. If the borough did stop funding the library, the city likely would have to look at a combination of increased funding from its own accounts and reduced operations, according to Zenge. “I think leaving the library open when people can use it is really important, and I think we just have to figure it out,” Zenge said. City staff recently conducted meetings to solicit public input on future improvements to the city’s port. Larger cruise ships are scheduled to come into the Alaska market over the next five to 15 years, and the city is considering ways to suit both the larger vessels and the increased number of passengers that will come ashore. Concerns were raised at the meetings about the city’s ability to accommodate more tourists, and what effect potentially larger cruise ship berths would have on local boaters and commercial fishing fleets. “We do a pretty good job, and I think Port and Harbors does an excellent job of managing and maneuvering all the people,” Zenge said. “I don’t think we’ll do it until we’re ready to do it, so in that respect I think we’ll be fine.” The City of Ketchikan recently took ownership of the Fifth Avenue building that housed the now closed Ketchikan Regional Youth Facility. The building has potential to be turned into a night shelter, similar to the First City Homeless Services Day Shelter that operates on Main Street, according to Zenge. “People can go in and get a cup of coffee, they can find their way there to get out of the weather. That’s what I think should happen to that facility,” Zenge said, adding that the city could look into leasing the space to an organization that could operate a shelter. “ ... Whoever would operate a shelter like that has to have experience in those types of things, and I don’t know — other that the day shelter — who has that here.” In addition to Zenge, current Council Member Julie Isom and Spencer Strassburg are running for the two open seats. The local election will be held Tuesday, with polls open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Southern Alaska Staff Writer Election 2016: City Council The Ketchikan Daily News urn:publicid:ketchikandailynews.com:13324520 Change 1 Usable urn:publicid:ketchikandailynews.com:110247534 Election 2016: School Board 2016-09-30T19:32:41Z 2016-09-30T19:26:36Z Copyright Ketchikan Daily News 2008. All Rights Reserved. Stories by Nick Bowman Kim Hodne Kim Hodne, 59, is making his first run for a seat on the Ketchikan School Board. He’s married to Laurie Hodne and has seven children, and he works as the maritime coordinator at the University of Alaska Southeast Ketchikan campus. He moved to Ketchikan in 2005. KDN: If you had free reign, what changes would you make to the school district on Day 1 of your term? KH: “I would ensure, improve, grow the vo-tech programs, potentials for the students. Not everyone is meant to go to college. Not everyone can afford, has the desire to go to college, would succeed in college even if they went. I want to see our kids be successful, have the tools to succeed going into the workforce, be it the welding programs, the maritime programs, the culinary arts programs. Our academics are good and strong, but we've lost some of the vocational programs that have been traditional and so strong in the past. If I could make a hard change, it would be those vocational-type programs and education for the kids that is important for those going straight to the workforce that will never take advantage of college.” KDN: What will be the top three issues facing the school district in the next three years? KH: “Budget, budget, budget. To me, the top priority is going to be figuring out the budget for the school. As well as, because the state pulled back on their (standardized tests), we have to get a work around and find that standardized test assessment that needs to be implemented for the schools, for the bean counters, for the tracking, for that type of output. I'm not a big advocate of those, but I get it. I understand it, and it is a way of measurement. The third would be the dropout rate. Whatever we can do — we don't want to lose any of the kids. A 100 percent graduation rate may seem euphoric or utopian to some, but in my opinion, we work with everybody. There's no reason why we can't be at, or why we shouldn't be at, a 100 percent graduation rate.” KDN: Is the school board too concerned about finances and not paying enough attention to school curriculum and academics? KH: “In speaking with the curriculum director, curriculum is obviously front on her plate and a lot of attention is given to that. In speaking to some of the teachers, the curriculum seems to be in line. They don't want for anything, really. We always want more and better, and technology is important. I believe the curriculum today is in line and is always being looked at and improved upon, and that's a major component of a quality education in the school district. But that's what they, the educators, are best for. I want to hear and listen to that, and the School Board needs to give them the budget, the finances, to be able to get the curriculum. To be able to buy and have the tools necessary for the education system. Budget is boring. It's hard to do, but it's not that there's too much focus on it. But in the state of the finance world today, it raises its ugly head. If it were 30 years ago and we were way fluid in money and oil money and things were simple and easy, then more attention could be there. It's just cyclical, and right now in the cycle, budget is the main concern.” KDN: Would you vote for teacher raises given the financial position of the state? KH: “That's a tough question to answer because it's ambiguous in the fact that — are we talking about a 3 percent raise or a 10 percent raise? There is cost of living. Ketchikan is an expensive place to live, so wages are always on the table for negotiation. … Keeping up with inflation — it has to happen. Now, 10, 15 percent raises? Probably not.” KDN: Is homework helping or hurting student education? KH: “My personal philosophy toward homework is to a certain degree, it's a necessary evil, but I don't like it generally because it takes away from family time. My students spend more time in their waking hours with teachers than they do with me at home. Our time can be far better spent in activities and family versus my child having to spend two, three hours at the kitchen table doing homework. ... We work maybe three to five hours a week on homework — that's fair, that's good. But the other thing that I've always held also in recent thinking of homework … (kids) have a lifetime of work. They're going to be working overtime. Are we already teaching our kids that work, work, work — that overtime is part of the deal? You put in your time at the office and then you bring work home with you? It's not what the kids need.” Kevin Johnson Kevin Johnson, 40, is in his first race as a write-in candidate for a seat on the Ketchikan School Board. He’s married to Melissa Johnson and has three children. Johnson is a self-employed construction worker that returned to Ketchikan in 2015 after living here from 1999 to 2008. Johnson’s wife is a teacher at Tongass School of Arts and Sciences, and he would be unable to vote on many budget items that come before the board. KDN: If you had free reign, what changes would you make to the school district on Day 1 of your term? KJ: “I'd like to see us have an all-school celebration somehow. I'd like to see our teachers and our schools, and I'd like to orchestrate that. I don't know how to — maybe a big Ketchikan public school system pep rally. I don't know, but that's something that I would like to see — a large gathering for cohesiveness of our schools, to understand that we're all part of one school system.” KDN: What will be the top three issues facing the school district in the next three years? KJ: “The top three issues that are going to be facing the school district in the next three years are going to be attached to funding, they're going to be attached to curriculum — implementation of curriculum, curriculum design — and the third thing that I believe they're all going to be a reflection of is our overall high school graduation rate. The reason being, most importantly, is if your funding is inadequate, then you're going to not offer services that you've traditionally offered, which are going to affect the students themselves. Those are three challenges that we're getting ready to face.” KDN: Is the school board too concerned about finances and not paying enough attention to school curriculum and academics? KJ: “Unfortunately, often School Board officials get caught in policy and the adoption of new policies. I do believe that School Board members should be more active in the process as far as curriculum. I think that's an important venue for a board member to make, in the sense of interjecting themselves more into the daily operation of school.” KDN: Are teachers overpaid, underpaid or earning about the right amount of money? KJ: “I think in the state of Alaska we're right on cue with what our salaries for what our teachers do in the classroom (should be). And you can't measure what they do outside of the classroom. It's unfortunate that we can't pay them 24 hours a day, because unfortunately educators are on the clock 24 hours a day — I haven't figured that one out yet. As far as our teachers being fairly paid, I believe that they are fairly paid — there's the reason why a lot of people, unfortunately, come to this great state to teach, so they can be paid fairly well.” KDN: Is homework helping or hurting student education? KJ: “With all of the technology that we have, where more of the academic progress students are attaining is measured online, I think that homework has really, with technology really lending itself to homework, it hasn't made as much of a negative impact as much as times past traditionally. Personally, I believe the idea with homework is if it's busy work, let's not do it. If it's meaningful, and it's part of the curriculum, then I'm all for it.” Trevor Shaw Trevor Shaw, 21, is running for re-election to the Ketchikan School Board after first being elected in 2013. He’s married to Lisa Shaw, works for the Alaska Marine Highway System and has lived in Ketchikan for 15 years. KDN: If you had free reign, what changes would you make to the school district on Day 1 of your term? TS: “I think the big thing that  would change is the relationship with the community. Not saying that it's bad, but I think there is definitely relationships we can improve upon, such as the relationship between the School Board specifically and the Borough Assembly. Also with public-private partnerships, whether it’s local businesses or local nonprofits — working to make sure that we have an educational system that provides all the opportunities necessary to give the students the tools they need to be successful in what they want to do. In changing the relationships, the only thing that I would do is build upon them and make them more effective. We're facing some hardships, especially at the state level. I think it's important to utilize every resource that you have, and we're a very tight-knit community, and I think we should take advantage of that and use it to the fullest extent possible.” KDN: What will be the top three issues facing the school district in the next three years? TS: “The top three issues will be funding. I'm trying to think of the next one after that, because that really has the trickle-down effect. Of course, as the state continues to face a multi-billion dollar deficit, that will trickle down with regard to the state aid funding that we receive from the state of Alaska. The next big thing that will be facing the school district is the continuing development of the relationship between the borough and the school district. After that, it's going to be educational opportunities and making sure as the school district changes — especially considering we might be facing some budgetary shortfalls here soon — making sure that we are in a good position to go through the crisis and come out better off than we were before.” KDN: Is the school board too concerned about finances and not paying enough attention to school curriculum and academics? TS: “I think there have been times when there's been a very extreme focus on finances. However, I don't think that's the case now. I think we're at a good point in our relationship with the borough. It can only get better from here on out. We've resolved, in many ways, the contractual services dispute, and we've been able to sit back and say, 'What are we really here for?' For me, one of the big things I've been advocating for … is kind of taking a step back, pushing beyond the politics and the fluff of the ginormous organization that is the school district and just really looking at the simple fact of: Are we doing the best that we can for the students? I think as long as we do that, and continue to focus on that goal, we'll be able to focus on what's truly important, which is the people that we serve, and that's the students.” KDN: Would you vote for teacher raises given the financial position of the state? TS: “Depending on what the financial situation is at the time, I would absolutely consider it. I think our teachers are doing a fantastic job, all the way from the teachers who have been in here 20 years to the teachers who have just recently graduated and come into the school district and all the way down to our substitute teachers. I think we have phenomenal professionals working within the school district, and I think they should be compensated and receive benefits in a fair manner according to the work they're doing. It's going to be a conversation we have to have. We don't know what the governor's going to do. We don't know what the Legislature is going to do.” KDN: Is homework helping or hurting student education? TS: “I think it kind of depends on the grade that you're in. There's definitely instances where homework is appropriate. If you look at the elementary grades, where a lot of the homework is kind of followup to whatever is being taught in the classroom and give students a chance to build upon what they've learned and practice it, they can come back and hopefully have some improvement in the work that they're doing. A lot of homework is preparation for tests, exams, that kind of thing. But maybe as we get into the higher grades in high school, especially juniors and seniors, maybe it should be something that we look at as part of class — whether homework is really needed or not. I don't know. It would be interesting to see what the real impact behind that is. That would be something to talk to the superintendent and the administration about, the curriculum director, and see what that would mean for our students. I wouldn't be opposed to getting rid of homework if it's not working, but I think it has its place.” Conan Steele Conan Steele, 43, is making his second run for a seat on the Ketchikan School Board. He was appointed to the board in 2015, but not elected in the fall race. He’s married to Michi Steele, has three children and works as the testing specialist at the University of Alaska Southeast Ketchikan campus. He’s lived in Ketchikan for 20 years. KDN: If you had free reign, what changes would you make to the school district on Day 1 of your term? CS: “I don't think I would make any major change Day 1. That would just be irrational, impulsive. I wouldn't have time to think out what I'm doing at all very well, so I don't really think I would change anything on Day 1. I don't think I have an agenda to change anything in particular right now. My biggest goal right now is to ensure quality and stability of services as revenues decline, as they are sure to.” KDN: What will be the top three issues facing the school district in the next three years? CS: “The No. 1 one is going to be the budget. There's a good chance we have at least three years of savings on the state level — that funding from the state remains relatively stable. If you look at the last six years, it's been at that low $20 million range. It's probably not going to stay that way moving forward. People say we've already cut everything that we can cut. The fact of the matter is if you're in a situation where all of a sudden your income is two-thirds of what it was before, you've got to find a way to make that work and still flourish. What I'm hearing from a lot of the other candidates is they seem to think everything's going to be OK, that the money is going to come through, that something is going to save us.” KDN: Is the school board too concerned about finances and not paying enough attention to school curriculum and academics? CS: “As someone who's taught before, in particular like in a content area like math, it's great to have new textbooks, but math doesn't really change a whole lot from year to year. As a matter of fact, a lot of ideas are rebranded, repackaged, rebundled together and then recycled. Personally as a teacher, I never stuck to just the techniques that are being taught in the textbook. The bottom line is you have to make sure you have good teachers in there first. It doesn't matter what your curriculum is if your teachers aren't worth a darn. So we've got to work on retaining qualified individuals. In that regard, even if the budget will be shrinking, we can't go after pay or benefits. Otherwise our quality really will start to suffer.” KDN: Would you vote for teacher raises given the financial position of the state? CS: “Again, I know how hard teachers work. I know they earn every penny. There seems to be this notion that, 'Oh, yeah. They get three months of the year off and they get paid all of this money.' You really don't get paid a whole lot, especially if you're getting insurance and you factor that in. Naturally, I would like to say yes, we want to give them a raise, but if we're in a dire financial situation I'd like to thing the teacher's union would recognize that too. There are worse things than just freezing wages for a little while.” KDN: Is homework helping or hurting student education? CS: “I'm kind of on the fence about that, being a guy that assigned it for a couple of years and had it frequently not come back. Again, I'm still really on the fence. There's good arguments for, 'You should just have the kids do everything here,' and then, 'They need to get plenty of practice outside.' A lot of people will make the argument that if you go to work and you work for eight hours and then you have a boss that expects you to go home and work for three more hours, it usually doesn't work like that in the real world without some sort of compensation. We do want them to have time to be healthy and happy. It doesn't matter how smart they are if they're couch potatoes and their (body mass index) is like 50 or more and they're just not very healthy.” Southern Alaska Staff Writer Election 2016: School Board The Ketchikan Daily News urn:publicid:ketchikandailynews.com:13324523 Change 1 Usable