Juneau mayoral candidates Beth Weldon, left, Saralyn Tabachnick and Norton Gregory, via video conference, speak to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce during its weekly luncheon at the Moose Lodge on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Juneau mayoral candidates Beth Weldon, left, Saralyn Tabachnick and Norton Gregory, via video conference, speak to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce during its weekly luncheon at the Moose Lodge on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Mayoral candidates want to make Juneau easier to access

Lobbying to legislature, being more business-friendly among goals

From the first question of Thursday’s Chamber of Commerce mayoral forum, the three present candidates talked about the importance of connecting Juneau to the region and the state.

Moderator Mike Satre began the forum by asking the panel of Norton Gregory, Saralyn Tabachnick and Beth Weldon whether they were in favor of the Juneau Access project. Gregory and Weldon spoke in favor of it, while Tabachnick said she would not pursue the project if she were to become mayor.

While they differed on that specific topic — one that won’t be on the table anytime soon due to the lack of state and federal support — they did agree that the capital must be more accessible.

Efforts that would make Juneau more accessible, including Juneau Access and a more robust Alaska Marine Highway System, are not within the city’s control. Weldon, who was on the Assembly before running for mayor, said being the mayor means being an ambassador for the city and making sure voters’ concerns are heard at a statewide level.

“I would do anything in my power to support the Access (project), which includes going to lobby the legislature, which we’ve done in the past and to talk to the governor, which I have done in the past,” Weldon said.

Tabachnick and Weldon were physically present at Thursday’s forum at the Moose Lodge, and Gregory was present via webcam from the Anchorage airport. Cody Shoemaker, the fourth mayoral candidate, was absent.

All three present candidates agreed that a strong ferry system would be extremely beneficial to Juneau and Southeast as a whole. Again, that would take effective lobbying to the legislature.

In terms of projects under the city’s control, all three candidates agreed that a second bridge to Douglas Island would be a boon.

Making Juneau more accessible for entrepreneurs was another angle to the topic. Weldon said the city should streamline the permitting process of starting a business in town. Gregory said more accessible housing would help incentivize people to move to Juneau. Tabachnick talked about increasing the amount of residential development downtown and finding ways to bring high-paying jobs to Juneau.

All three of them said a key role of being mayor is communicating with other Southeast cities to work toward common goals.

“I think we need to have great communication with our neighbors and our other mayors in our region to make sure we are all on the same page, that we’re strategize with one another when it comes down to efforts that affect every community,” Gregory said.

Juneau already connects communities in Southeast and serves as a destination for health care, shopping and tourism, Weldon said, and Tabachnick said it’s vital for Juneau to be as convenient and welcoming as possible for visitors.

“There’s a real importance and need for Juneau to represent Southeast as the hub and to maintain our status as the capital city,” Tabachnick said.

The candidates talked about also increasing the access between the Assembly and the residents of Juneau. They have spoken at previous forums about wanting to hear from the public as much as possible when making decisions. Gregory spent part of his closing statement pointing out that if he can be present at the forum through his computer, it should be possible to stream all city meetings as well.

“It’s the way of the future,” Gregory said. “Every single committee meeting needs to be broadcast via the web. I think those are some of the steps we can take as a community to encourage people to become participants and active in their local community government.”

Thursday’s forum was the final major forum of the municipal election season, and the election takes place this coming Tuesday. Early voting is open at City Hall and the Mendenhall Mall Annex from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday and Monday. The Mendenhall Mall Annex will also be open from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday.


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


Juneau mayoral candidates Beth Weldon, left, Saralyn Tabachnick and Norton Gregory, via video conference, speak to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce during its weekly luncheon at the Moose Lodge on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Juneau mayoral candidates Beth Weldon, left, Saralyn Tabachnick and Norton Gregory, via video conference, speak to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce during its weekly luncheon at the Moose Lodge on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

More in Home

Juneau high school seniors Edward Hu of Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé (left), Elizabeth Djajalie of Thunder Mountain High School (center) and Kenyon Jordan of Yaaḵoosgé Daakahídi Alternative High School. (Photos of Hu and Jordan by Juneau Empire staff, photo of Djajalie by Victor Djajalie)
Senior Spotlight 2024: Three top students take very different paths to graduation stage

Ceremonies for Juneau’s three high schools take place Sunday.

The entrance road to Bartlett Regional Hospital. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file photo)
Bartlett Regional Hospital looking at eliminating or trimming six ‘non-core’ programs to stabilize finances

Rainforest Recovery Center, autism therapy, crisis stabilization, hospice among programs targeted.

(Clarise Larson/ Juneau Empire file photo)
Both JDHS soccer teams advance to state semifinals after decisive wins

Top-seeded girls stay undefeated with 5-0 win against Palmer, second-seeded boys top Homer 3-1.

Mayor Beth Weldon (left), Deputy Mayor Michelle Bonnet Hale and Juneau Assembly member Paul Kelly discussion proposals for next year’s mill rate during an Assembly Finance Committee meeting on Wednesday night. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Assembly members support lower 10.04 mill rate ahead of final vote on next year’s CBJ budget

Initial proposal called for raising current rate of 10.16 mills to 10.32 mills.

A king salmon. (Ryan Hagerty/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Biden administration advances bid to list Gulf of Alaska king salmon as endangered or threatened

Experts say request could restrict activity affecting river habitats such as road, home construction

Dave Scanlan, general manager of Eaglecrest Ski Area, speaks to the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly Finance Committee on April 13, 2023. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Dave Scanlan forced out as Eaglecrest’s general manager, says decision ‘came as a complete shock to me’

Resort’s leader for past 7 years says board seeking a “more office-process, paper-oriented” manager.

The entrance to the Alaska Gasline Development Corp.’s Anchorage office is seen on Aug. 11, 2023. The state-owned AGDC is pushing for a massive project that would ship natural gas south from the North Slope, liquefy it and send it on tankers from Cook Inlet to Asian markets. The AGDC proposal is among many that have been raised since the 1970s to try commercialize the North Slope’s stranded natural gas. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Eight young Alaskans sue to block proposed trans-Alaska natural gas pipeline

Plaintiffs cite climate change that harms their access to fish, wildlife and natural resources.

Tom Abbas discusses the hose his boat needs as shop owner and vintage halibut jacket provider Jim Geraghty shows his customer the options. Racks of dry-cleaned woolen jackets hang among the marine supply aisles in Gerahgty’s Lemon Creek business. (Laurie Craig / Juneau Empire)
Coats of many colors: Halibut jackets make a big splash again

“Pre-owned” wool garments from many decades ago being tracked down for resale by Juneau marine shop.

Most Read