This holiday season the Empire asked federal, state and local officials what items sit atop their Christmas lists. Here’s a roundup of their wish lists in their own words.
Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski
In some ways, I feel like Christmas came early this year, with the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act being signed into law. That legislation has the potential to impact every sector of our state, with investments in everything from roads, bridges, airports and ferries, to broadband, energy, permitting and ports. I’m excited to see those numbers on paper become tangible improvements in the lives of Alaskans.
While the new year certainly does present new opportunities and a fresh start for new initiatives, my longstanding priorities remain steadfast. Rebuilding and strengthening Alaska’s economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting Alaska’s vital fishing industry, and addressing the issue of violence against vulnerable women and girls, all remain a focus. I continue to push for America to have a more robust presence in the Arctic, including through the new Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies which will be located in Anchorage. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, we have a lot of work ahead of us. As always, I’ll continue to go to bat for Alaskans greatest needs and priorities and I’m confident we will see great benefits to our state through those efforts. I am also hopeful that I will be able to travel to communities around the state that I’ve been unable to visit due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of my biggest Christmas wishes, though, is that Alaska’s resource development industry will see some reprieve from the attacks it has seen over the past year. We have incredible resources at our fingertips that Alaska has proven time and time again we are able to develop in an environmentally responsible manner. In our own backyard we have the materials we need to boost our economy and safeguard our national security if only we are given the opportunity to do so.
Outside of my list of policy initiatives, I’m really looking forward to being with family and enjoying Alaska’s beautiful winter. It’s been a busy and challenging year in Washington DC, so time with loved ones to recharge and reset – to simply be with my fellow Alaskans – will be the best gift of all.
Sen. Dan Sullivan
I’m excited to get home for Christmas to be with my family and friends, make a big Christmas Eve dinner – Alaska Seafood Newburg – attend midnight mass and to wake up on Christmas day with my wife and daughters, full of Christmas magic.
My real wish for Christmas and for the coming year is that this pandemic is finally put behind us – for the benefit of our health, our families, and our economy. I also hope that in the new year we are able to welcome more visitors than ever before to Southeast and throughout Alaska, making 2022 a banner year for tourism for our hardworking families and our many small businesses throughout our state.
Rep. Don Young
Alaska’s energy sector is crucially important to achieving American energy independence. There is truly no reason we should have to import oil from other countries when we have it right here at home in Alaska. So in terms of wishes for Alaska, I’m asking for policies in Washington, D.C., that allow our state to do what we do best: produce energy. Families feel pain at the gas pump, and high oil prices cause major downstream effects like higher prices for groceries and heating fuel. Producing energy here at home would benefit Alaska’s families and energy workers alike.
I’ve already gotten my Christmas gifts this year: my wonderful wife Anne, supportive and loving daughters and grandchildren, and the greatest job in the world — representing Alaskans.
Sen. Jesse Kiehl
I wish for a stable fiscal plan for Alaska’s future. (An immersion blender for the kitchen wouldn’t hurt my feelings, either, but mostly the fiscal plan!)
Rep. Sara Hannan
I wish for all of us to work together to maintain a healthy, vibrant and sustainable Alaska. For me, this means a long-term fiscal plan, reliable ferries, full freezers, warm fires and quality time spent with loved ones.
Rep. Andi Story
On the top of my Christmas wish list is peace on Earth and goodwill between all. Other items on my list include a balanced and tri-partisan fiscal plan that prioritizes investing in children and families and economic stability with the predictability critical for our recovery process.
If Santa is still reading, I’d also like smart policy for the appropriation of the federal infrastructure dollars, so they are implemented in a smart, community-driven way that benefits Alaskans.
City and Borough of Juneau officials
Rorie Watt, City Manager
I’d like to worry more about too many cruise ship passengers than too many COVID-19 cases. And, I’d like to spend a lot more time rock climbing next year than I did this year.
Robert Barr, Deputy City Manager
An end to COVID-19. Whether it be through vaccination, a shift towards endemicity, or some other means, we continue to spend a lot of resources dealing with COVID-19 – resources we can’t focus on other priorities. More importantly, people continue to have their lives impacted by the virus itself and the ways in which we mitigate its impacts. It isn’t exactly a policy wish, but, by far, it’s the very first thing that comes to mind.
Here’s a real policy ask: a federal-level policy that improves the resiliency of our national supply chains for the long term. In our economy, we often prioritize efficiency. In many ways this is good – efficiency and competition often mean lower or stable prices – but over time, we’ve lost the balance between efficiency and resiliency. Resilient systems – resilient supply chains – can be inherently inefficient because they have redundancies or backup processes built into them. If something fails, the entire chain doesn’t fail. It’s hard for individual businesses except for the very largest to prioritize resiliency over efficiency but there are things that government – mostly at the federal level, but perhaps locally too – can do to make resiliency achievable. We clearly need it – our local construction prices are through the roof, not really because of inflation, but because equipment and materials can’t get where they need to go. A whole host of our Assembly’s highest-level goals require a secure, reliable, and predictable supply chain.
City Assembly members
Mayor Beth Weldon
I am wishing for the pandemic to end. I received my personal Christmas list as both my sons were able to come home for Christmas.
Deputy Mayor Maria Gladziszewski
Atop my policy wish list is to not have to contemplate any more COVID mitigation policies. To help make that happen, I wish that all those who received two doses of vaccine would get the third dose and I wish all those who haven’t yet received any vaccinations would do so soon.
I also wish we work on amending the sales tax code to remove (or at least reduce) the sales tax on food for everyone. Currently, seniors don’t pay sales tax on food and I wish we could extend that to all. It’s a complicated issue but it’d be my wish to accomplish because sales tax on food hits people of lower incomes the hardest.
Personally, I wish for a Christmas with fluffy white snow to brighten the landscape in these dark days and it looks like I’ll get that wish! To brighter days ahead and a Merry Christmas to all!
I’d love a few things to come to pass this year at the local level. We continue to push for a focused effort on improving our code to facilitate housing development. I want to see a robust public engagement and decision-making process for the downtown waterfront area where NCL hopes to establish a new cruise ship dock. Finally, I’m hoping we can create stronger formal and informal relationships with our tribal governments, ANCs, and clan leadership.
Of course, there are things on the state and federal level I’d love to see for Juneau in the coming year. Everyone wants a long-term fiscal plan for the state budget, including new revenue sources. I’m excited to see what the federal Infrastructure funding and hopefully Build Back Better could mean for stimulating the economy now while building for the future.
And of course, on a non-policy-related note, I’m hoping we can get to 90% of our community vaccinated in 2022!
I’d like an easy answer to the City Hall question, a dozen CDL drivers and a snowplow blade for my truck.
Overall, my wish is for policies and programs that make Juneau a more affordable, respectful, fun, safe, and positive place to live. Specific wish list:
■ New housing development(s)
■ Additional public use cabins
■ Actions to address junk vehicles
■ Strategic use of reserves and bonding to address infrastructure needs and reduce property taxes
Michelle Bonnet Hale
We have learned a lot about how to make affordable housing happen, and I’d like Juneau to take big leaps forward in that arena this year. I want to maintain and increase our focus on renewable energy powering Juneau.
Lastly, and really it is first, we all need to be attentive to taking care of each other as we move into our third year of COVID. We need to be closely attuned to the effects on businesses and the economy and need to be very attuned to the emotional effects on our Juneau residents. It is a hard time and I personally am striving to approach all decisions with the greatest gentleness possible.
My CBJ policy wishlist would include:
■ Focus on affordable housing so we can make Juneau an affordable place for young families and professionals to live.
■ Make dock electrification happen.
■ Put the pandemic in the rearview mirror!
And then at the state/federal level, I would wish for redistricting without political interference and expanded voting access so that everybody is represented fairly.
Waahlaal Giidaak Barbara Blake
My holiday wish includes maintaining a healthy course. Keeping Juneau healthy and free limited to no covid spread, so we can get to a good place of opening back up while keeping our community safe. I’m so thankful for all the effort our community has been putting toward taking care of each other. I’m hopeful our community can get back to a new normal of safety and economic prosperity.
Board of Education
President Elizabeth Siddon
This holiday season, on the policy side of things, I’m wishing for the School Bond Debt Reimbursement program to remain fully funded in the state budget and for the Base Student Allocation (currently flat funded) to receive an increase so Juneau’s students receive a world-class education in a safe, healthy environment. On the non-policy side, I hope all our students and staff enjoy a wonderful and safe winter break with friends and family!!
Policy Wish: I would like to see the State’s FY23 Budget for K-12 Education not funded with only FY17 dollars: Increase the Base Student Allocation!
Other Wish: Every adult in Juneau do something to support a kid (yours or someone else’s) progress towards their goals!
I wish the legislature would restore school funding to the same inflation-adjusted level of 2003 so we could better control class sizes and fund other educational priorities.
I wish the legislature would fund a teacher recruitment process that helped teachers enroll and maintain minimum payments needed for Public Service Loan Forgiveness for federal loans. I think this would be huge for recruiting new teachers to Alaska.
Alaska Seafood Newburg Recipe
Submitted by Julie and Dan Sullivan
2/3 cup butter
6 T flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups light cream
4 beaten egg yolks
3 cups cooked seafood — shrimp, scallops, King crab or lobster
1/2 cup dry sherry
4 tsp lemon juice
Paprika to taste
Melt butter in skillet. Blend in flour and salt. Remove from heat and gradually stir in cream. Return to heat and cook slowly, stirring constantly until sauce thickens.
Stir small amount of sauce into egg yolk and then add this mixture back into the sauce on the stove. Continue stirring and cook until thick.
Add seafood and dry sherry, then lemon juice, salt and paprika. Serve over rice or toast. Serves 8.
• Contact reporter Dana Zigmund at firstname.lastname@example.org or 907-308-4891.