By Ken Smith
The Anchorage election will be held Tuesday, April 6. The polls will be open on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The two local polling places are the Community Room in Girdwood and the Indian Valley Bible Chalet.
Locally, Seats B and C are open on the Girdwood Board of Supervisors. Seat B is occupied by incumbent Russ Stahla. He is being challenged by David Chadwick and Ryan Schlueter.
Seat C is held by incumbent Bryan Epley. He is being challenged by Tim Cabana and Karen Zaccaro.
There are two seats open on the school board. Four candidates are vying for Seat A, including Girdwood candidate Tommy O'Malley. Three candidates are competing for Seat B.
Five seats are open on the Anchorage Assembly, including Seat J, South Anchorage, which includes Girdwood and Turnagain Arm communities. The incumbent, Jennifer Johnston, is being challenged by 19-year-old Keli Booher.
To assist Girdwood voters in gaining a better understanding of the GBOS candidates, the Turnagain Times asked the candidates to submit a short bio and statement about their candidacy. The following responses were provided.
Seat B Candidates
I live in this great community of Girdwood with my wife and three children. I am a property owner, and taxpayer in Girdwood. I am the incumbent GBOS Seat B board member. I believe in a fiscally-responsible board. As taxpayers we deserve great value
for our hard-earned dollars. I will continue to look for ways to keep our taxes working efficiently for the citizens of Girdwood.
I am a lifelong resident of Girdwood for more than 23 years. I grew up in a family with a strong history of community service to Girdwood. I strongly embrace those values. I attended Little Bears through Junior High at Girdwood School before making the difficult commute to Dimond High School graduating in 2005. I was a member of the Alyeska Ski Club race team from age 6 through age 18. I have volunteered with numerous community organizations including the volunteer fire department, community schools, parks and recreation and the Forest fair; in addition to maintaining regular employment in Girdwood for the last five years working with a private contractor and at Alyeska Resort. This has given me a unique perspective of the culture, traditions, and values of the Girdwood community.
I graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Bachelor's degree in Political Science. While enrolled, I was an elected member of the student government and worked extensively to represent the Northern Arizona University student body. Student government has given me the experience of working within budgets and organizing volunteers and developing my skills a public speaker. I am currently finishing up a second bachelors degree in history at UAA, which I expect to receive next month. My intended career path will be toward obtaining my Master's in Education and teaching, while maintaining strong connections and service to my community.
I am anxious to tackle the three most pressing issues facing Girdwood in the future; a souring economy negatively effecting tourism; infrastructure needs around the community, such as roads and water; and management of the steady growth of our community so that we can maintain our traditions and foundations. My combination of youthful exuberance and unique experience will make me an effective voice for the issues Girdwood's residents care about.
I was born in Anchorage on Dec. 5, 1988. Since then, I've spent my entire life in Alaska with the exception of spending six years overseas. In 2007, I graduated in Moscow, Russia from an English-speaking high school and moved back home to Alaska to attend university at the University of Alaska, Anchorage.
For the last three years, while pursuing my degree in fire sciences, I've been living in Girdwood, volunteering with the fire department. In my time with GVFD, I've received multiple certifications in Firefighting, Hazardous Materials, and Emergency Medicine.
Recently, I was promoted to Captain and plan on serving Girdwood as an emergency responder for years to come. Girdwood has been a part of my life since before I can remember, and in my 21 years of life, I've fallen in love with this valley. My main concern for Girdwood would be it's future. It's such a special place to all of us, it's important to manage its growth in order to retain that unique charm. Development of Girdwood is necessary and if done properly, will help our community thrive. One of my main goals is diversification of the job market. This will mean more jobs in Girdwood and an economy that is both more stable and more productive. Doing this will bring more money into Girdwood that we can apply to some of the Capital Improvement Projects on our list.
In short, I feel improving and diversifying our economy is the key to financial security and the responsible development of our community.
Seat C Candidates
I am a five-year resident of Girdwood and a 14-year resident of Alaska. I was born, raised, and educated in Utah and lived, for a short period, in Oregon before moving to Alaska.
I hold a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and have worked for almost 20 years in real estate as a Broker, and in the corporate world as a General Manager, the building trades, and in the ski industry.
I am a member of the National Ski Patrol since 1994, and have been a volunteer member of the Alyeska Ski Patrol since 1997. My wife, Sharnee, and I have two boys, age 13 and 6, and relocated to Girdwood for a better quality of life.
First appointed by the Mayor to the Board in the fall of 2007, I was elected in the spring of 2008 and served as the Public Safety Supervisor and as the Land Use Supervisor. Prior to the Board, I served as Vice President of the Land Use Committee.
The Girdwood Board of Supervisors is an advisory Board and mostly reactionary to issues brought before the Board. I feel that it is important to both listen to the voice of the community and balance this with my own values and principles when making a decision that affects Girdwood. I would like to be seen as the “voice of reason” on a diverse Board.
Issues of importance to me for Girdwood's future include economic diversity, enhanced recreational opportunities, both public and private, electricity generation, and providing a value in services through property taxes during lean economic times. I also feel that for the Board to be relevant, Board members must be respectful of one another and respectful of the process.
I have lived in Girdwood for 10 years and enjoy very much living in such an involved and spirited community. My husband, Marco, and I have three children (Dessa, 7, Brenner, 3,, and Leland, 9 months). I have worked with my husband Marco in our architecture business, Z Architects, here in Girdwood for the past five years.
My experiences helping run a small business, working in a professional field and an additional broad range of previous work experience give me a well rounded approach to community issues.
I decided to run for GBOS to offer a new voice and try to help expand the number of perspectives that are considered when the board makes decisions. As a regular attendee of the GBOS and Land Use Committee meetings over the past five years, I have seen some divisiveness and polarization of the community when it could have been avoided. I believe as a GBOS member, I can help forge more consensus and compromise.
My view is that elected officials have the responsibility to represent the entire community, not just those voices they agree with. I also believe elected officials have a fiduciary responsibility to the community when they use tax money, no matter where the money came from. All local, State, or Federal government money available to our community ultimately comes out of the pockets of hard working people, and I will always keep that in the forefront of my mind when making budget decisions.
There are a broad range of additional issues that GBOS faces; I would offer that in every situation, and I will ask myself these questions: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Is if financially responsible? Does it improve the community?
I look forward to the opportunity to represent the community on the Girdwood Board of Supervisors.
I have lived in Girdwood for 27 years and raised three kids that all went to the Girdwood school, still have one here, one going to South and one that just moved into her own place here in Girdwood. This is a great community, and I would like to make it even better with improvements to the school, the roads and slow growth.