Paul Kelly

Paul Kelly

Get to know a candidate: Paul Kelly

He’s running for the District 1 City and Borough of Juneau Assembly seat.

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 Assembly candidate Paul Kelly.

• Name: Paul Kelly

Place of birth: I grew up on Dena’ina lands in Anchorage.

Length of residency in Alaska and Juneau: Lifelong Alaskan and moved to Juneau in 2017.

Education: I graduated from Dimond High in Anchorage and obtained a B.S. in Computer Systems Engineering from UAA. I am working towards my Master’s in Public Administration at UAS.

Occupation: I work as an Analyst/Programmer for DOT&PF.

Community service: I’m a member of AFSCME/ASEA Local 52 where I’ve served on the local Juneau chapter E-board and assisted in negotiating the last contract between GGU state employees and the Walker administration. For the last three years, I’ve served on the Juneau Board of Education. For two of those years, I was the Clerk, a member of the Board’s leadership.

[Kelly launches campaign for CBJ Assembly]

Assembly Candidates’ Question

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

Economic data collected by JEDC shows that Juneau has a diverse economy compared to other parts of Alaska or Southeast. However, there are two areas I see room for improvement.

We can diversify our tourism industry. We need to look more into independent travelers, small cruise ship tourism, attracting more conventions and bringing more events such as the Iron Man competition.

We need to invest in building up Juneau. In 2019, our construction industry represented only 4% of Juneau’s economy. We need more residential development. We need to repair our aging infrastructure and facilities including schools, roads, and sewage treatment. As we build and rebuild, I see opportunities to improve energy efficiency and increase the use of renewable energy.

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

The Juneau Renewable Energy Strategy outlines the community’s goal for Juneau to become 80% dependent on renewable energy by 2045. It’s encouraging to see that this goal already has broad community support, because that’s what it’s going to take.

There is room for the Assembly to lead the way. It can set policies requiring all new vehicles in the city’s fleet to be replaced by electric, and prioritizing bids to projects that incorporate renewable energy. It has the power to set zoning and building code.

The Assembly can’t do this alone, however. This will only work if our small businesses, ordinary Juneauites, and state, federal, and tribal offices all work together and embrace a positive change for future generations.

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

We need to do three things: train people here, protect what we have, and bring in money from outside.

Training people here yields a better return on investment because it gives people with roots a reason to stay. It also means that we’re not exporting our talent elsewhere. Public education, the trades, and the university system are vital investments.

Protecting what we already have keeps us moving forward. The city could also prioritize using local vendors and contractors for new projects as a way of reinvesting in our economy.

One of many ways we can bring money into the economy is by investing in more projects with a federal or state match, especially in renewable energy and local infrastructure.

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

The Assembly’s creation of a tourism manager will help find viable solutions, especially with the management tourism traffic. Before we increase the number of passengers disembarking, there must be a way to mitigate heavy traffic. As the tourism manager’s role becomes more defined, I hope they can work to ensure residents and visitors can enjoy our community.

After it’s been proven to me that we can do this satisfactorily, I will be a yes vote.

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

I believe in new development that focuses on building neighborhoods with parks, grocery stores, and shops all in one area. I support using tax abatement as a tool to spur new development, especially if homes are built using cleaner technologies such as heat pumps. This would have an impact on month-to-month energy costs for homeowners. We need to encourage homeowners to either live in the homes they own or to rent out their homes long-term. I support the development of communities that make it easier for our elders to retire and stay in the city where they spent much of their lives. I also support the development of infrastructure that keeps them mobile and independent.

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

I am the only candidate in this race who has the experience of holding elected public office through my time on the School Board. I know what it’s like to have tough decisions to make, and where the best decision is sometimes the unpopular one. I have proven that I can disagree with my colleagues, but still work with them after the debate is over and the votes are counted.

I’ve proven that I take the time to do my homework, think critically, and ask the right questions. The unique perspective I will bring to the Assembly is that of a tested public servant.

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