Get to know a candidate: Derek Dzinich

Get to know a candidate: Derek Dzinich

Read about the District 2 candidate in his own words.

  • Friday, September 11, 2020 4:12pm
  • News

Ahead of the Oct. 6 municipal election, the Empire is publishing articles on how the vote-by-mail election will work, the propositions that will appear on ballots and races for Assembly and Board of Education seats. 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. In cooperation with the Empire and KTOO, the League will hold a virtual candidate forum at 7 p.m. on Sept. 16

Name: Derek R. Dzinich

Date and place of birth: Dec. 5, 1997, Juneau

Length of residency in Alaska and Juneau: 22 years

Education: Juneau-Douglas High School; Elon University (North Carolina): Bachelor of Arts, Cum Laude (majors: Political Science, International Studies — minors: Spanish, peace/conflict studies, leadership studies)

Occupation: Civil Clerk, Juneau Trial Court

Community service: I have served as the student body president of Juneau-Douglas High School, and also spent one year as a student representative to the School Board.

Other experience: I am multi-lingual, and have a minor in Spanish language/literature. Prior to my current position, I worked at Auke Bay Labs for five years as a seasonal lab technician. I am also a classically trained pianist.

Assembly Candidates’ Questions

1. How should CBJ respond to the Governor’s budget cuts? Are GO bonds a legitimate tool to stimulate economic activity in this environment?

I support general obligation bonds as an effective measure to combat the negative impacts of shortages in municipal funding created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the sparse economic climate at the state level, the burden of ensuring the provision of quality public services has fallen increasingly more on the shoulders of communities and municipal governments. As far as methods for raising funds for community projects go, I believe that the Assembly’s ballot measure will be effective in stimulating the local economy, and I plan to vote for it.

2. COVID-19 has caused disruption to tourism, including the cruise ship industry. What lessons learned during this time can the Assembly address and work on once we are in the new normal?

Juneau’s economy is heavily dependent on the cruise ship industry for annual revenue. The ongoing pandemic, and resulting suspension of large cruises, highlights the community’s dependence on this source of revenue. Additionally, over the past several years Juneau has seen tremendous growth in the amount of cruise ship passengers we receive, which has resulted in certain undesirable repercussions: overcrowding, noise, and environmental impacts. While it is crucial to maintain our tourism infrastructure, Juneau must move toward a diversified economy that is less dependent on a single industry for revenue. The future is full of uncertainties, and by investing in consistent industries such as technology, renewable energy, and fisheries, our city will be able to more independently sustain its local economy.

3. What can the Assembly do to help lessen the economic impacts of COVID-19 on the Juneau community and move Juneau forward in economic recovery?

My approach to the current pandemic can best be described as “safety first.” This means that we need to take the necessary precautions to adequately screen all new arrivals, continue regular testing of the local population, implement swift and comprehensive contact tracing (especially when responding to workplace outbreaks), and bolster our local testing capability so that Juneau residents can get their results faster. Additionally, we all need to do our part to stop the spread of the virus. I support the mandatory wearing of masks in public places where proper ventilation isn’t optimal and social distancing cannot be maintained, and believe that such policies are fully within the purview of local government.

4. What can the Assembly do to help alleviate the critical shortage of child care options for Juneau families?

There’s no question that Juneau faces a crisis regarding affordable childcare. This issue will only become more pronounced as we transition to online learning. Juggling work and childcare is extremely difficult, and we must come up with alternatives to provide struggling parents with childcare alternatives. I support the Assembly’s decision, made in May, to provide extra funding for local childcare providers. This extra assistance is crucial during the ongoing pandemic, and we must continue to support local parents throughout this period. If elected, I will advocate for extending the Assembly’s support of local childcare providers even after we recover from the current pandemic.

5. What is the most important community need the Assembly must address?

The circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are obviously dire, and addressing the health and safety of the community is of the utmost importance. That being said, times of upheaval and change are often the most opportune moments to take action and foster long-term change. Regardless of the pandemic, Juneau is faced with a need to diversify its local economy. This means supporting the growth of our local small businesses while simultaneously offering incentives to bring new investment and business opportunities to Juneau. Part of local economic growth is also dependent on keeping people in town, both old and young, and I believe that the Assembly also has an important role to play in this respect.

6. What is the most significant Assembly accomplishment in the last year?

As a nation, the U.S. is facing considerable challenges. In light of the human losses and economic difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ongoing national reckoning on racial justice, I feel that the CBJ’s most significant accomplishment is two-fold. First, the Assembly and city government has done a good job of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in a manner that takes into account Juneau’s unique situation as a semi-isolated community. Generally, I believe that Juneau’s proactive response has yielded significant results, especially when compared with the rest of the country. Second, I believe that the Assembly’s creation of a racism review committee is an important step towards ensuring that our community is truly inclusive of all Juneauites.

• These questions were developed by the League of Women Voters. Candidates supplied the biographical information.

More in News

COVID at a glance for Wednesday, April 14

The most recent state and local numbers.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Wednesday, April 14, 2021

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

This photo shows an envelope containing a 2020 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident. On Wednesday, March 24, 2021, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by the state of Ohio that tried to get the U.S. Census Bureau to provide data used for drawing congressional and legislative districts ahead of its planned release. (AP Photo / Matt Rourke)
Alaska joins 15 other states in backing Alabama’s challenge to Census privacy tool

The case could go directly to the Supreme Court if appealed.

Has it always been a police car? (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire)
Police calls for Tuesday, April 13, 2021

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

This photo shows the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine sits on a table at a pop up vaccinations site the Albanian Islamic Cultural Center, in the Staten Island borough of New York. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. (AP Photo / Mary Altaffer)
CDC freeze on Johnson and Johnson vaccine sets clinics scrambling

The odds of being affected are vanishingly rare, but CDC says better safe than sorry.

After over 30 years at 3100 Channel Drive, the Juneau Empire offices are on the move. (Ben Hohenstatt /Juneau Empire File)
The Juneau Empire is on the move

Advertising and editorial staff are moving to Jordan Creek Center.

This photo shows the National Archives in the Sand Point neighborhood of Seattle that has about a million boxes of generally unique, original source documents and public records. In an announcement made Thursday, April 8, 2021, the Biden administration has halted the sale of the federal archives building in Seattle, following months of opposition from people across the Pacific Northwest and a lawsuit by the Washington Attorney General's Office. Among the records at the center are tribal, military, land, court, tax and census documents. (Alan Berner / The Seattle Times)
Biden halts sale of National Archives center in Seattle

Tribes and members of Congress pushed for the halt.

This photo shows Unangax̂ Gravesite at Funter Bay, the site where Aleut villagers forcibly relocated to the area during World War II are buried. A bill recently passed by the Alaska House of Representatives would make the area part of a neighboring state park. (Courtesy photo / Niko Sanguinetti, Juneau-Douglas City Museum) 
DO NOT REUSE THIS PHOTO WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM JUNEAU DOUGLAS CITY MUSEUM. -BEN HOHENSTATT
Bill to preserve Unangax̂ Gravesite passes House

Bill now heads to the state Senate.

The state announced this week that studded tires will be allowed for longer than usual. In Southeast Alaska, studded tires will be allowed until May 1 instead of April 15. (Dana Zigmund / Juneau Empire)
State extends studded tire deadline

Prolonged wintry weather triggers the change.

Most Read