Kelly Fishler

Kelly Fishler

Get to know a candiate: Kelly Fishler

She’s running for the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly District 1 seat.

Ahead of the Oct. 5 municipal election, the Empire is also partnering with the League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization that does not endorse parties nor candidates. Candidate bios and answers to six questions that the league developed will appear online as well as in editions of the Empire. School board candidates Thomas Buzard and Wiljordon V. Sangster did not respond to multiple messages seeking responses to the league’s questionnaire. In cooperation with the Empire and KTOO, the League will hold a virtual candidate forum at 7 p.m. on Sept. 8. This biography and questionnaire is for City and Borough of Juneau Assembly candidate Kelly Fishler.

• Name: Kelly Fishler

• Length of residency in Alaska and Juneau: Most of my life, over 18 years in Alaska and 2 in Juneau

• Education: Alaska Military Youth Academy, Univeristy of Alaska Anchorage & Southeast, Prince William Sound Community College, Clatsop Community College

• Occupation: Student

• Family: Husband Matt, Daughter Claire and son Kris. Extended family lives in Anchorage, Nome, and Kenai.

• Community service: Coast Guard Station Juneau Ombudsman, AMYA Cadet Mentor, volunteer Sunday school teacher.

• Other experience: Served in the U.S. Navy and Alaska Air National Guard, worked as a birth doula over the last 4 years, has experience with gardening and small livestock.

Assembly Candidates’ Questions

• In the long term, how would you develop Juneau’s economy if elected?

Juneau’s economy needs to regain stability post-pandemic. This could include incentives for new business owners to initiate startups as well as incentives for existing businesses to remain operational through the incredible hardships they have experienced from supply shortages to staffing and customer difficulties. By ensuring that some administrative costs or taxes are temporarily eased by CBJ, many businesses that are barely hanging on can regain stability and continue to serve our community.

• What strategies would you advocate/undertake to be sure Juneau has sufficient renewable power to meet our goal of being 80% renewable by 2040?

I will always advocate for clean sources of renewable energy! We already use hydropower with 3 sources for that, we’re doing very well in regards to electricity. As Juneau continues to investigate and evaluate potential avenues for more clean and renewable energy, we must ensure that all aspects of clean energy are considered.

• What more can we do to make ours a more sustainable community, in particular assuring the health and success of locally owned businesses?

This issue is close to my heart, I’m passionate about sustainability and locally owned businesses! Making Juneau’s businesses sustainable starts with good business practice on CBJ’s part, ensuring regulations and ordinances are continually evaluated for present and future applicability is a great step towards more sustainability. The City of Juneau can work with current and prospective business owners to simplify and streamline the administrative process of business ownership so that the community of Juneau can have local businesses that meet local needs.

• How would you respond to pressure to continue to increase cruise ship passengers while striving for a livable community for Juneau’s residents?

It’s important for the Capital City of Alaska to be accessible to anyone who wants to come here, and the Tourism Management Plan is a great first step. Much of the plan was enacted and initiated in the early 2000’s, and since then has grown the tourism industry effectively. As stated in section 3.2 of the plan, tourism is intended to be in partnership with local residents. Since 2001, Juneau’s number of visitors has nearly doubled as of 2019. Because Assembly members are elected to represent the residents of Juneau and their interests, pressure to further increase capacity must be done in a way that is reasonable and responsible with Juneau’s residents in mind and with their input every step of the way.

• What strategies do you recommend the CBJ undertake to support the availability of affordable housing for Juneauites of all ages?

Juneau’s need for affordable housing is pressing, and without sufficient availability we will continue to see people either leave, be unable to obtain home ownership, or be unable to find affordable rentals. Constructing more condos and apartments is a good first option. Juneau’s cost of living is high, including the basic costs of rent and mortgage. A good goal would be to enable many in our community to reach their goal of home ownership or rentals that meet their needs of space, bedrooms, and accommodations by increasing the number of available listings without flooding the market, and working to lower our tax burden where we can through economic development and responsible budget practices by the Assembly. Another way to make housing more affordable is to make building materials less expensive by working towards another ferry terminal or a road to Juneau.

• What issue/perspective do you have that is likely different from other candidates?

Juneau needs a 50 year plan. The Capital Improvement Plan addresses deferred maintenance and projects for 6 years. The Comprehensive Plan is outdated and has few deadlines, goal dates, or delegated responsibility. Without a plan that includes bi-annual updates and steps to accomplishing goals, Juneau will continue to have an uncertain future and see people moving away. Portland Oregon has the Portland Plan, which could be an excellent template for Juneau to use.

We also need economic stability through sustainability. Rising freight costs, inflation, and the amount of time fresh produce spends on a barge to get here means we can greatly benefit from locally grown fresh hydroponic and soil produce. Consideration of zoning changes to add in commercial and/or horticulture space can provide steady income augmentation. It tastes better, is more nutritious, and lasts longer at home. Good nutrition bolsters community health, the economy, and food security.

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