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

(Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast for the week of Nov. 27

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire File
Even the Grinch got into the holiday spirit at last year’s Gallery Walk on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022.
An abundance of traditional and new ways to capitalize on this year’s Gallery Walk

More than 50 events scheduled Friday afternoon and evening from downtown to Douglas.

This view is from Wrangell on Sept. 11, 2022. (Photo by Joaqlin Estus/ICT)
Conservation group supports formation of new Alaska Native corporations

The conservation group the Wilderness Society has changed its position and now… Continue reading

From her hospital bed on Friday, Nov. 24, Christina Florschutz demonstrates how she pulled pajama bottoms that she found in the landslide debris over her legs, arms and head to keep warm. Her house was destroyed in the landslide, and after spending the night in the wreckage, she was rescued the morning of Tuesday, Nov. 21. (Caroleine James / Wrangell Sentinel)
Elementary school aide who survived Wrangell landslide calls circumstances a miracle

Christina Florschutz trapped overnight by landslide that killed at least 4 people, with 2 missing.

Lylah Habeger (left) and Jaila Ramirez lead the Konfeta Corps during a rehearsal of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” at Juneau Dance Theatre. The ballet will be performed in the Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.At.Kalé auditorium Friday through Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Juneau Dance Theatre)
‘Nutcracker’ tradition, with a twirl of new choreography

This year’s performances feature a cast of 93, ages 5 to 78

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023

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

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023

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

Rain at the National Weather Service Juneau station on Nov. 11 doesn’t exist as snow until hits the upper portion of nearby Thunder Mountain. So far this November has been both warmer and wetter than normal. (Photo by National Weather Service Juneau)
El Niño playing outsize role in Juneau’s warmer temperatures, according to National Weather Service

Early peek at numbers shows Juneau is 4.9 degrees warmer than average this November.

An emergency rescue vehicle parks in front of the Riverview Senior Living center at midday Monday after resident Nathan Bishop, 58, was discovered in the attic about 40 hours after he was reported missing. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Nathan Bishop found alive in attic of Riverview Senior Living complex after 40-hour search

Family members say they remain supportive of facility’s locally available assisted living services.

Most Read