Ahead of the Oct. 4 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 questions that the league developed will appear online as well as in editions of the Empire. In cooperation with the Empire, KINY and KTOO, the league will hold a virtual candidate forum at 7 p.m. on Sept.14.
Name: Greg Smith
Date and place of birth: 1983, Juneau
Length of residency in Alaska and Juneau: 26 years
Education: 2002 graduate – Juneau-Douglas High School; 2007 B.S. Environmental Sciences, Oregon State University
Occupation(s): Legislative staff
Community service: Board Member, The Glory Hall: 2019-2021; Commissioner, Juneau Commission on Sustainability: 2015-2017; Volunteer coach, I Toowu Klatseen (Boys Run): 2015; Mediator, Benton County Mediation Services: 2011
Other experience: Small business owner, commercial fishing crewmember, non-profit and independent contractor, consultant
How will you as an Assembly member move the second channel crossing to completion in a timely and cost-effective manner, and where do you anticipate funding will come from?
The city will be a partner in any second channel crossing project. As a partner, we must be responsive and help move the process along in a timely fashion. No route has yet been selected and funding would likely come from a variety of sources, but mostly federal and state funds.
How can we keep our community hospital commercially viable with increasing competition and regulatory challenges?
We need to ensure a well-informed hospital Board of Directors, capable CEO, and strong leadership team. Bartlett has hardworking, caring, and talented staff, but they need leaders aware of the issues facing the hospital who are equipped with the skills and knowledge to address them. The Assembly will need to continue to provide strong oversight to ensure the viability of Bartlett.
What are your thoughts on the petition repealing the ordinance requiring new property owners to disclose their purchase price to the Assessor’s Office?
I thought we (the Assembly) moved too quickly to adopt the original ordinance, which I why I voted against it. For a change that significant, I felt we needed to better understand the impacts and take the time to educate the public. However, I believe in the concept of mandatory disclosure, as it should lead to more accurate assessments and improved tax fairness, especially for lower and middle value residential properties.
How would you address rising costs and limited availability of groceries and other goods with supply chain issues?
Global supply chains are complex and most fixes are likely outside of the reach of the Juneau Assembly. However, we, as a community, should do more to support locally grown foods. By “growing (or hunting, catching, foraging, etc.) our own”, we remove some of the risks and supply chain issues that impact our food supply. While likely not an Assembly issue, I have been contacted on numerous occasions about shipping company’s fuel surcharges, which raise the costs of all goods brought into town. This surcharge may need to be investigated, as should other possible ways to increase competition or efficiency in the shipping industry.
What ideas do you have to increase the livability of Juneau for current and prospective new residents?
There are many things to be done to increase the livability of Juneau. We need to continue to focus on the foundational elements like good jobs, a diversified economy, affordable housing, childcare, good schools, and functional infrastructure and public services. We should also work to:
Attract good paying federal jobs, like NOAA fisheries and increased Coast Guard positions.
Bring down the cost of living through more housing, energy efficiency and conservation programs, and eliminating sales taxes on food.
Ensure vibrant outdoor recreation, including improved trails and more public use cabins, and arts opportunities.
Reduce impacts from tourism.
Meet our climate and energy goals and improve how we deal with solid waste.
What is the most important community need the Assembly must address?
I wholeheartedly believe our #1 issue is housing. It is simply unavailable or too expensive for many. The lack of affordable housing hinders economic growth and makes Juneau a less desirable place to live. The Assembly has taken some steps (property tax abatements, reduced regulations, grants to developers, etc.) and is considering or doing others (expanding tax abatements, additional grant support from the Affordable Housing Fund, registration of and possible restrictions on short term rentals, among others). There is more work to be done on housing, though some actions are out of the control of the Assembly (mortgage rates, supply chain issues, developer capacity and ability).