Businessman Wade Bryson has joined the race for the District 2 City and Borough of Juneau Assembly seat.
The 44-year-old father of five announced his candidacy to the Empire in a Saturday interview. He said he wants to give back to the community that helped him go from a “clock-in employee” to the owner of multiple Juneau businesses, including two Subway restaurants.
“I really enjoy helping people. The more people I help, the more people I want to help. I saw my service on the Assembly as the way I could help the most people possible,” Bryson said.
The District 2 seat was formerly held by Deputy Mayor Jerry Nankervis. But Nankervis filed to run for a seat in Alaska House District 34 in November, leaving the District 2 seat vacant.
Bryson ran for Assembly in 2008, but lost. He said he was waiting for an open seat to run again.
“We’ve got so many great people here in Juneau, that to me it didn’t seem necessary to take on an incumbent that’s already doing service for the community,” he said.
Supporting education funding and combating drug-related crime are two of Bryson’s priorities, he said. His businesses have suffered a series of drug-related break-ins in the last few years that left him wanting to do something about Juneau’s opioid crisis.
While increasing supportive services for those suffering from addiction will be important, Bryson believes it will first be necessary to “control or stop the flow of drugs into the community.” It’s a complicated problem, he said, but one he wants to take on directly.
“We are spending an amount of resources getting people clean, helping addicts break their addiction cycle, but the flow of drugs into the community is damaging that good work,” Bryson said.
He said he remembers a time when Juneauites could leave their cars and houses unlocked without fear of them being burglarized. That’s a time he’d like to return to. People moving up to Juneau, like Bryson did 23 years ago, should have the same opportunities that he had, he said.
“The drug epidemic has lowered the quality of life for Juneauites,” Bryson said. “Making it a priority, but also giving the people who need the resources the appropriate level of resources is how we’re going to combat that.”
Education funding is another priority for Bryson. His children, ages 11-21, have all graduated through the Juneau School District system. He said his family has benefitted from a wealth of great educators during his time here. Belt-tightening for education funding in recent years might mean the next generation of Juneau families won’t have that same experience, he said.
That bothers Bryson. He’s a proponent of the “Best Starts” pre-kindergarten initiative, which would provide city funding for education prior to kindergarten.
“I don’t understand the thinking of when the budget is tight, the first people they take money from are the children. I think it’s shortsighted, to think that taking money away from education and the school children now won’t have any long-term consequences,” he said.
Bryson is well-known as a radio host on KINY’s “Problem Corner,” which he’s hosted for about 10 years. He’s taking time off from hosting the show during his campaign, and his last day is Wednesday.
He’s not taking campaign contributions, he said, as it’s not something he can do “in good conscience” as increasing prosperity for Juneau families is the “very thing I am trying to change.”
Bryson will contend with Michelle Bonnet Hale, who filed a letter of intent with the Alaska Public Offices Commision in June. Assembly members serve on rotating three-year terms at the regular municipal election held each first Tuesday in October.
• Contact reporter Kevin Gullufsen at 523-2228 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @KevinGullufsen.