I was stunned when I attended a City and Borough of Juneau Assembly meeting last week and found three Assembly members — Mayor Ken Koelsch, Deputy Mayor Jerry Nankervis and Assembly member Mary Becker — had conspired to block Juneau voters from voting on access to a quality child care initiative.
Best Starts, a community group representing interests of Juneau working families, worked hard to build a solid foundation of facts for the Assembly regarding the importance of access to quality child care. There seemed to be a solid six votes for Best Starts’ proposed initiative. (It takes five votes to put the initiative on the ballot).
However, the vote was strategically delayed until two members left to run for other office, so there were only four “yea” votes remaining. The point is Best Starts did not ask the Assembly to raise taxes or do anything other than let Juneau families have a vote; but the minority of three were able to kill the initiative.
• Less than one in 10 infants and toddlers have access to licensed child care in Juneau.
• The average cost of child care in Juneau is higher than a year of in-state tuition at the University of Alaska Southeast.
• Two of three Juneau children entering kindergarten don’t have the skills they need to succeed in school.
Access to quality child care is a cornerstone for Juneau working families, education and our economy! We need to elect people who will support interests of Juneau working families in having access to quality child care. Please, vote!
• Jim Ayers is a parent, former Head Start Director, Juneau-Douglas High School basketball coach, Chief of Staff for Governor Tony Knowles. My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.