Jason Puckett

Jason Puckett

Candidate profile: Jason Puckett, Assembly D2

What is your highest priority for the CBJ to accomplish during your term in office? Explain why this is a priority and how you would facilitate this change.

My three major issues are affordable and safe housing, fully funding the schools and ensuring that we maximize the tax revenue from the marijuana legislation and use that money for the right purposes. For affordable and safe housing we need to ensure that there is enough housing for people to choose from. Working with the zoning regulations and making it easier for companies to build safe housing would be a start in the right direction. The next two items go hand in hand. We can utilize the tax revenue from marijuana to fund the schools and ensure that we set up treatment programs for people that are suffering through addiction.

Juneau needs more housing for several kinds of populations that range from the homeless to young families on limited budgets. The Housing First effort is an encouraging start, but much more is needed. What additional actions would you suggest the Assembly take to get on with solving the housing problem in Juneau?

While the Housing First effort is a good first step, it does not address the issue of affordable housing for younger families. Our youth are leaving Juneau because of the high cost of housing and the lack of sustainable jobs. In order to ensure that we keep them here we need to have more multi-dwelling units and smaller homes that are available to them. We have many apartments that cater to low-income families but for a middle-income family the choices are not as plentiful. Rezoning some areas for multi-dwelling units or increasing the density to create more homes on less land would go a long way to ensure that we meet the housing needs of the community.

As Alaska tightens its belt, city revenue is likely to shrink as well. What are your suggestions to increase efficiency in Juneau and/or reduce the municipal budget?

This is a two-pronged approach. First we need to ensure that we can maximize tax revenues, which include the taxes on marijuana sales. The second approach is to minimize waste in city expenses. To do this we can use cost-saving energy approaches for city buildings, limit excessive spending for departments and use the buying power of the city to negotiate better pricing on items that the city needs to purchase.

When considering public transportation, traffic, and parking issues in our municipality, what do you consider to be the major concerns and the solutions for them?

Lack of parking is a major concern in the downtown area. There are very few locations where someone can pay to park on an hourly or daily basis. We are currently not maximizing our revenue potential for on-street parking, either. Next are the traffic and pedestrian issues during tourist season downtown. A dedicated city tram or trolley that would run the downtown loop could ease some of the traffic and pedestrian burden, and increase some revenue for the city as well.

The legalization of marijuana requires new regulations for CBJ that determine how the use of this substance will be handled in the municipality. For example, the Assembly must decide whether or not to allow the production and sale of marijuana edibles such as cookies, candies or sodas, and whether or not to allow smoking parlors for marijuana, including in the downtown area to draw in cruise ship passengers. Select one of these two specific decisions that must be made and discuss what you would like to see done..

We need to have a place where the cruise passengers can consume the products that they purchase here because we do not want them to try to take it back on the ships with them. If we do not have that option then we will lose out on the tax revenue from those purchases. While I do not think that this will be a major draw for tourists to come to Juneau, we will see a larger influx of people wanting to purchase and consume marijuana in our city. If we deny them this option, then their money will be spent in the other cities in Alaska that they visit and not stay in our community.

Tourism is a significant part of the CBJ budget. What steps should be taken to make sure tourism is a positive experience for both visitors and residents?

I believe we need to clean up the downtown area. When tourists get off of the ship some of the first sights that they see when they walk up Franklin Street are the homeless and the burned-out Gastineau Apartments building. We need to try to get the tourists to venture farther into the downtown district to see some of the amazing businesses that are located past the tourist shops. As for the residents, one of the biggest concerns I hear is the massive amounts of foot traffic and the disregard for drivers in the area. By ensuring that there is plenty of walking area for the pedestrians, both the tourists and residents will have a good experience in Juneau.

The Juneau Economic Plan tells us that we need to be courting young people to fill state positions of retiring Juneauites. What can the Assembly do to further this goal?

With an aging population, we are losing some of the tax revenue that we need for the city to thrive. The youth do not want to stay in Juneau due to the high costs of living and the lack of job prospects. By ensuring that we are funding education programs (including college), we can ensure that the well-educated youth of Juneau will be eligible for those state positions and have the abilities to perform and thrive in those positions. If we can ensure affordable and safe housing for them and their families, it will encourage them to stay and help build the community.

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