Beth Weldon

Beth Weldon

Get to know a candidate: Beth Weldon

She’s running unopposed for a second term as mayor.

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 Mayor Beth Weldon, who is running unopposed..

• Name: Beth Weldon

• Date and Place of Birth: Jan. 12, 1965, Juneau.

• Residency: 56 years

• Education: JDHS, University of Washington, BS in Fisheries

Occupation: Retired Division Chief with Capital City Fire/Rescue, own Glacier Auto Parts with my husband

Family: Husband, Greg; sons, Tyler and Cody and his wife, Taylor,; dog, Gunner

• Community Service: CBJ Mayor (2018-2021), CBJ Assembly (2016 -2018), Glacier Valley Rotary Past President, Program Ad Coordinator JDHS Hockey, volunteer for Glacier Swim Club and JDHS Track and Field, former member of the CBJ Aquatics Board, JDHS Site Council Alaska State Firefighters Association Board, Juneau Ski Club Board, and JDHS Wrestling.

• Other experience: Juneau Mayor, Assembly committees: Public Works, Lands, Human Resources, Finance, Mining Subcommittee, CBJ Supervisor Academy, Aurora Fire Officer Development Program, National Fire Academy Leadership II; Former Instructor in EMS, Fire Service, Marine Ship Board Firefighting, Aircraft Rescue Firefighting, Emergency Medical Dispatch; Owner/operator F/V Seven C’s, local business owner

[Mayor Beth Weldon seeks second term]

Assembly Candidates’ Questions

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

I would continue to support the Juneau Economic Development Plan; continue supporting a diverse economy spilt between mining, government, and tourism; further the effort to support childcare affordability and options so that young families will stay in Juneau; continue efforts to maintain work programs to keep our workforce local; work to maintain up-to-date and affordable city services; continue supporting Juneau as a Northwest art capital; and make sure Juneau is a welcoming and vibrant Capital City to our Governor and Legislature.

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

Providing more energy is difficult. We have plenty of electricity in a normal rain year and can provide electricity to Green’s Creek and the Franklin Dock. On our drought years, AELP was unable to supply them with consistent electricity. Both Lake Dorothy Phase 2 and Sweetheart Creek would supply too much electricity for current customers and would be cost-prohibitive to local rate payers. Without new customers, we need to keep working on finding ways to conserve energy such as heat pumps and water conservation.

I am currently advocating AEL&P to develop Sheep Creek as a run of the river power source. They have applied for an infrastructure grant for this project which would supply enough energy for two more docks.

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

As a small business owner, sustainability is of particular importance to me. This past year, all the pandemic concerns and restrictions have been challenging for our business climate. The federal, state, and local financial assistance has been of tremendous assistance, but challenges remain. To address that we need to have a reliable and capable workforce and encourage and support entrepreneurs. We also need to continue to support buying locally. The lack of cruise ships has shown how vital the tourism sector is to our economy and our local businesses. We need to find the balance between a strong tourist economy and local community satisfaction.

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

The complete shutdown of cruise ship and independent travelers in 2020 showed how heavily our community relies on tourism. Tourism will rebound, but we are presented with the opportunity to implement the recommendations of the Mayor’s Visitor Industry Task Force which held numerous public meetings to gather and then address community concerns. We should have a Tourism Manager at the city soon who can start work implementing many of the recommendations of the VITF such as TBMP membership, relief of downtown congestion, and negotiating with CLIA on “hot berthing”. Following these recommendations will help us balance between cruise ships and the community concerns. The NCL dock could also help limiting the number of ships to five.

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

With the housing market currently combined with the low interest rate, house prices are at an all-time high and counter productive to affordable housing. We have continued to make big advances in addressing housing needs in our community, but we do have work to do. New areas for single family housing and housing complexes have been identified. The Community Development Department and Planning Commission are also updating zoning requirements to lessen restrictions. Pederson Hill has completed Phase 1 and will start Phase 2 soon. Riverview Assistive Living may help some seniors move out of their homes to open them to the market.

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

Having the opportunity to serve as an Assembly member and now Mayor, has allowed me to understand the importance of discussion and compromise. Public input is also essential to the decisions we make. We may feel like we know what the community wants but we can be surprised if we don’t check with the public in a variety of ways. Emails, public testimony, work groups, and surveys are all ways we can seek input and release information. Combining public input and compromise within the Assembly has been particularly needed during the pandemic. Collaboration with many voices is often the best way to obtain the best results.

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