Nano Brooks: Assembly Areadwide Candidate
Occupation: Mechanical Installer, Alaska Plumbing and Heating
Bio shared by candidate: “Nathaniel Brooks (Nano) is a born and raised Juneauite. He graduated JDHS at the age of 16, attended Wyotech 2011-2012, and later enrolled in and completed programs for mechanical trades at AVTEC. His diverse work experience in the community has covered many fields. The last 8 years have been spent in the plumbing and HVAC field, with a focus on heat pump installations. With a strong work ethic, vast work experience, and a technical mind, Nano has designed and invented multiple renewable energy generators and is patent pending for 3 devices. His passion for economic development and sustainability doesn’t end there. He is also the owner of Hi-Fi Senpai vintage stereo and record shop, Wash Dash Or Button Mash laundromat at Mendenhall Mall, other various businesses including a utility company, and is the co-founder of the non-profit 49th Forward. He has a passion for helping others and problem solving.”
This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Why do you want to be a member of the Juneau Assembly?
Well, being born and raised a Juneauite I’ve been a part of many of the municipal functions and areas, and had multiple jobs ranging from child care to trade work. Now that I’m a multi-business owner, hiring employees and have bought property, I really see the issues that are affecting the community and making it to where a lot of people are feeling like they have no hope, and as a result they’re leaving.
I’m trying to step up so we can put some systems and processes in place to ensure that we can create a good quality of life for generations now and in the future.
Describe your knowledge and involvement with Juneau’s municipal government and what you think the strengths and weaknesses of it are based on those experiences?
My experiences in municipal government stem directly from my involvement in businesses and different functions associated with the municipality. Whether that’s paying property taxes, getting permits and licenses, or going through any of the other various steps to do economic development in the community.
There are a lot of strings in it. but it’s easy for me to go and get the services I need when I need them done. The staff are extremely supportive and helpful, and always make it a pleasure for me to do what I need to in order to keep my businesses going and support the community as well.
Some of the weaknesses, I think, are just weaknesses that are affecting all municipal functions and that usually breaks down to staffing issues. Making sure that there’s enough qualified individuals to make sure that these programs and services can run as smoothly as possible.
Are you against, or in favor of the proposal for a new City Hall? What are your thoughts on the decision by the Assembly to both put it on the ballot again after it failed, and to fund an advocacy initiative?
I believe in supporting anything that helps the city operate in the most practical and efficient and sustainable matters possible. But currently, I do not support the (new) City Hall.
I wasn’t part of the Assembly that put this on the ballot, but if I was on the Assembly at the time, I would uphold the people’s vote from the last time. Because as an Assembly member that’s what we’re supposed to be doing. To be representing the people’s voice and the people did lend their voice.
As far as the $50,000 of allocated funds for educational purposes on the topic, I think it’s a little bit of a disservice to the community. Because there are a lot of brilliant people in the community, we’re very smart, we’re very engaged and we care about what goes on here. To think that we didn’t do our due diligence as a community is a little less than fair, in my opinion.
What is your assessment of how much the city taxes its residents versus the amount of public services it provides to them? Specifically outline what adjustment in each of those areas you’d advocate to change as a member of the Assembly.
The millage rate is split up for every tax dollar between education, civil services and bond obligations. What I’m seeing is that the education system is very well equipped on the facility side. There are many amazing schools in the community that allow great options for any age group and region of where you’re living.
But as a result of that, with half of every tax dollar go into maintaining those facilities, it is really putting a strain on the property tax for the individual, and possibly consolidating some of the facilities, or even consolidating municipal functions into one of the school buildings, that would be an excellent way to kind of tack or be a good option in order to lower the mill rate.
Because if you’re not so spread out, you’re not maintaining so many facilities and taking away from the focus on the personnel to actually run the programs and services. I think that there are a handful of things that can be done to maybe get it in the six to seven range.
If we were able to consolidate facilities, start some programs like a possible land raffle that I’ve been looking into on the city charter, we could diversify the revenue streams, we could lower the impact of the mill rate for municipal facilities. With a combination of those two things, we’d have enough extra revenue to still provide exceptional services through all municipal functions while being able to cut the mill rate by multiple points, not just a fraction of a point.
How can the Assembly better balance the growing cruise ship tourism industry’s impact on the quality-of-life of residents, specifically regarding affordable housing, environmental impact and overall cost of living?
I think that it is very important to have a balance in that respect, because what we’ve noticed, especially in this season, is that there’s such an influx of tourists that it’s putting a real strain on the infrastructure, and the community and the civil services that are supposed to be afforded to the community.
I’ve heard from multiple people that, you know, they can’t get on a bus to go to work because it’s full of tourists because the cap was made out there for visitations on the glacier. We really have to make sure that things like that can’t happen because if the community members can’t make a living here then the support that allows those systems to take place start to suffer as a result.
There’s no silver bullet for any one of these super-complex issues. But as an Assembly member it’s really important to get community engagement and involvement on multiple occasions, and get a consensus from what the people think would be the best route, and then try and formulate that into a sustainable and responsible practice for the town.
But as an Assembly member it’s really important to get community engagement and involvement on multiple occasions, and get a consensus from what the people think would be the best route, and then try and formulate that into a sustainable and responsible practice for the town.
I’ve heard from a lot of our representatives, former managers, Assembly members, and they all say that tourism is the absolute lifeblood of the community. I do not believe that at all — I think the people are the lifeblood of the community. It’s the people that make all other functions and systems possible, and without the people there wouldn’t be a tourism industry.
We’re the ones who provide the businesses this service, and all the enticements that tourists enjoy and spend money on when they visit here. I think by doing programs that are conducive to supporting the community, supporting individuals to build businesses, community development, and diversify the revenue streams and economy for the community as a result, you’ll see a growth and improvement in tourism revenue as well.
But if you try and do it the other way around, like if we get as many tourists as possible, everything is going to work better, that trickles down economics and that’s already been proven not to work. I’m more believing in supporting the people, and making sure that the community is in the best state possible and works best for the people. And as a result of that everything else will flourish and thrive.
How can I best use my time, effort and resources to address all these in an equal fashion? I think it comes down to really diversifying the revenue streams of the community and creating an environment for individuals to do that. So I very much want to make an environment for the people to do these things that will support the community, and it’s the Assembly and city’s responsibility to create that environment.
Are there any substantial matters that we didn’t get around to talking about that you think is pertinent to discuss?
Not everyone feels like their voice, their opinion, or their vote will count. For many years of my adult life I didn’t vote and I was like, “Why? Why would I vote if no one’s gonna, you know, hear my voice or consider me.” Then when I started getting involved in city politics, years ago, I started doing votes, I realized just how many people actually turn out and it’s not that many.
So voting is a very powerful thing here. It’s worth it for every single one of us to get out there and have our voice be heard because it is heard here in Juneau more so than anywhere else because of that turnout rate. And if everyone just got out, stood up and gave their voice we would start seeing some really amazing things happen in the community.
• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at email@example.com or (651) 528-1807.