Troy Wuyts-Smith

Get to know a candidate: Troy Wuyts-Smith

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 Troy Wuyts-Smith.

• Name: Troy Wuyts-Smith

• Date and place of birth: Feb. 24, 1987. McKeesport, Pennsylvania

• Length of residency in Alaska and Juneau: Moved to Fairbanks in Feb 2017. Moved to Juneau in October 2017

Education: high school, post-secondary training, college attendance, degrees/certificates, etc

Graduated from Connellsville Sr. High School in Connellsville, PA in 2005. Graduated from Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA in 2009 with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in English.

Occupation: Supervisor at Alaska Airlines. Owner of Crowned LLC.

• Family: Husband, Glenn Wuyts— U.S. immigrant from Belgium. Dog, Woodrow— American Akita.

• Community service: Clothing Donations to support the homeless. Charity Races. Registering people to vote. Book donations. Animal clean up at parks/trails. Host Thanksgiving Dinners. Unused medication disposal.

• Other experience: International LGBTQ+ Advocacy. Volunteer work with former President of Iceland, Ólafur Grímson. University Multicultural Student Coalition. 10+ years in hospitality/tourism industry.

[Assembly race heats up as Wuyts-Smith enters fray]

Assembly Candidates’ Questions

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

We first need to safely bring tourism back to Juneau in large numbers. Tourism is what drives our economy. This will ultimately revive our small businesses and encourage new start-ups. I plan to work with JCED to encourage all small businesses and citizens to use the new Local Frequency App which is great for local businesses. We must continue to support our commercial fisherman with grants and speed up the process because our fisherman provide jobs, food, and play a significant role in the success of our economy! Also, we need to focus on becoming a much more sustainable community.

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

It’s important to lean into the established organizations like Renewable Juneau and the Juneau Economic Development Council to support local businesses and families to make an impact. Local businesses hold a lot of power with their decisions that inevitably trickle down to their consumers. The JDEC programs connect entrepreneurs to the people and tools they need to succeed, while Renewable Juneau helps individuals and families make changes for a better future. We need a strong voice that represents these organizations by continuing the conversation for a more sustainable future and creating outlets for collaboration

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

Juneau is filled with people who enjoy the outdoors and understand our primal connection to it. We are not divided from nature, but a part of it. I think implementing programs to give economic relief to businesses that strive for carbon neutral practices or a plastic free operation could create small-scale education directly to consumers. This would help foster conversations around the idea of sustainability. Juneauities are proud to keep money circulating locally and giving local businesses who try to educate their customers help is a great way to continue the momentum of this green movement. Investing in companies that are allowing us to operate in a more sovereign manor while relying less on the barging in of goods should be one of our top priorities.

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

I support increasing cruise ship passengers with strict measures. Safety is first, but we must have a unique approach in order to keep our city open. I support a measure requiring all passengers on the vessel to provide proof of vaccination, plus require a mandatory rapid test before exiting the ship. I would also consider a curfew that limited the length of time cruise ship passengers were allowed around town. This provides an extra level of safety in preventing a Covid outbreak in Juneau. This is the best option to increase tourism and boost our economy. We must take whatever means necessary to keep our businesses open, safely!

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

Incentive programs. Tax Breaks. Relax zoning/developing rules. Neighborhood revitalization. Offering a tax break to property owners if they commit to keep a certain percentage of their rental properties at an affordable rate for low income housing is a start. I also think it’s a good idea to relax zoning and developing rules so it’s easier to speed up zoning permit processes. We should also allow apartment developers to build on smaller lots if they commit to reserving some apartments for low income residents. Also, we need to take a deeper look at revitalizing our neighborhoods. There are plenty of spaces we could transform into affordable housing.

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

It was a 100% mistake to decline the $2 million donation from Norwegian Cruise Line. While recovering from a pandemic there are so many organizations we could have supported with that donation. We should have accepted the funds to help our parents and fix our broken childcare system. It’s unacceptable that there are waitlists for parents to get their kids quality, affordable childcare. Moreover, I would explore the possibility of reaching out and rescinding our decision to decline the donation. We need to take whatever means necessary to revive our economy and make the best decisions for our future. Also, I take pride in running a bipartisan campaign to be a voice for the entire community, not just those who agree with my views.

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