Wade Bryson is running for re-election for a Assembly District 2 seat. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Wade Bryson is running for re-election for a Assembly District 2 seat. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Meet the Candidates: Bryson up for re-election to District 2 seat

The business owner seeks another three years on the Assembly

Editor’s Note: Ahead of the Oct. 1 municipal election, the Empire is publishing articles on the candidates running for Assemblyand Board of Education seats. The articles will be published Tuesday through Friday. The Empire is also partnering with theLeague of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization that does not endorse parties nor candidates. Below each article, you’ll find six questions that the League developed. Candidates had a 120-word limit per answer. In cooperation with the Empire and KTOO, the League will hold a candidate forum on Sept. 17 at KTOO from 7-9 p.m. with a meet the candidates’ reception from 6:30 to 7.

Wade Bryson currently holds the District 2 seat in the Assembly of the City and Borough of Juneau, a position he aspires to hold.

“I actually feel like I’m contributing more than anything I’ve ever done,” Bryson said. “I can look at things that we’ve approved in the Assembly and I can see my handprints on it.”

Father of five and owner of the Subway franchises in Juneau, Bryson originally hails from Tennessee. He came to Alaska with his dad in 1995, the son of an environmental specialist attached to the Juneau Access Project.

“The Road brought me to Juneau,” Bryson said. “Dad was a federal highway environmental specialist — he wrote the environmental impact statement.”

Here’s who is running for this year’s Assembly, school board seats

Since then, Bryson has given back to Juneau, working with the rest of the Assembly to strengthen public safety, ease congestion downtown, and enact renewable and sustainable policies and resource use.

“I’ve spoken with as many (police) officers as I can,” Bryson said. “Their number one request is encrypted radio. The criminals are literally using the police unencrypted radios to be better criminals.”

Bryson is also adamant about the need for more police working dogs, and better retention and wages for the police department to keep Juneau Police Department more effective as a whole. The station’s only police dog, Buddy, is due to retire in a few years, Bryson said.

Along with public security, Bryson is a proponent of supporting vocational and technical schools and attending University of Alaska Southeast. With more students able to get trade work directly out of technical school or attending college locally, Bryson said, all of Juneau benefits.

“Every ounce of support we can put into educating our young people will ease our woes in the future,” Bryson said. “The better our economy and the better their lives are going to be.”

Bryson is also a supporter of sustainable and renewable resources, including hydroelectric power and banning single-use plastics, a practice he’s instituted in his stores.

“Each item we don’t add to our landfill adds time to our landfill,” Bryson said. “We want to help our recycling program. The economic motivation is as important to me as the environmental.”

Bryson isn’t as ardent a supporter of the New Juneau Arts and Culture Center as others, arguing instead for a smaller structure than the final design, which he said would also free up more parking space for the already crowded downtown area. However, Bryson said, his proposal for compromise was not selected for the plan going forward.

Bryson’s favorite restaurant is, unsurprisingly, the Subways he runs, where he claims he’s eaten a sandwich a day from for 18 years. When asked what kind of ice cream he thinks he’d be, a mandatory question for all candidates, Bryson had a very definite answer.

“Chocolate with like, dark chocolate and fudge bits in it, and hot chocolate on top,” Bryson said.

Candidate Bio (In their own words)

Wade Bryson is from Nashville, Tennessee, and has lived in Juneau since 1995. He is a small business owner, radio host and current member of the Assembly.

Question 1: What qualifications and one personal quality will make you an effective member of the Assembly?

I’ve been the host of Problem Corner for the last 10 years, that experience was beneficial in preparing me to serve on the Assembly.

Listening and responding to the citizens of Juneau is the number one qualification for serving on the Assembly. The more perspectives I hear from, the more information I can get. Another qualification was being part of this Assembly.

We as your Assembly have worked together and listen to each other at the highest level. I was able to include my business perspective and insight often.

Most importantly I was able to learn from the vast experience and knowledge of my fellow Assembly members. Whether you agree with every decision we made or not, we always worked together to find the best outcomes for the city.

Question 2: What is the most important community need the Assembly must address?

Crime remains to most detrimental issue that impacts our very quality of life.

I’ve spent time with our police. Including a 3rd of July ride-along, briefings and meetings with Chief Mercer.

We will need to make investments in new technology and look at police dog replacements as “Buddy” will retire in a couple of years. We will also need to fund prosecutors adequately to handle all the crimes that are being committed.

Question 3: What is the most significant Assembly accomplishment in the last year?

We’ve had a positive year. The CLIA lawsuit was ended, the Archipelago project was approved, the Mayor’s child care task force was completed, and the mill rate stayed the same.

Question 4: How should CBJ respond to the governor’s budget cuts?

We wrote a letter to the Legislature explaining the burden the cuts would place on our city. In the future we will have to reduce expenses to make up for the lost state revenue.

Question 5: Should the City and Borough of Juneau cap the number of cruise ship passengers? Why or why not? What steps, if any, should CBJ take to mitigate the impacts of cruise ship passengers on Juneau?

Federal law prohibits restricting cruise ship landings, however, what we can do is continue to develop the infrastructure to mitigate the impacts of having a healthy cruise industry.

The economic benefits of the summer tourism industry add to our quality of life in Juneau and has prevented the Assembly from having to make any unwanted cuts. By the summer of 2021 Egan drive will be more efficient and the Archipelago project and staging area will have a significant impact on the congestion downtown. Eaglecrest also has a great potential project. We do have and will maintain noncommercial areas for locals.

Question 6: What can the Assembly do to help alleviate the critical shortage of child care options for Juneau families?

I was able to serve on the Mayor’s child care task force. The outcome of that committee included numerous options that made it easier to create a child care spot and improve employment opportunities for child care workers.

Schedule of candidate profiles

Tuesday: Carole Triem (Assembly Areawide) and Emil Robert Mackey III (School Board)

Wednesday: Wade Bryson (Assembly District 2) and Deedie Sorensen (School Board)

Thursday: Assembly candidate Alicia Hughes-Skandijs (District 1) and school board candidate Martin Stepetin Sr. (School Board)

Friday: Greg Smith (Assembly District 1) and Bonnie Jensen (School Board)

Important election dates

Sept. 16: Early and absentee voting begins

Sept. 24: Last day to receive applications for absentee by-mail ballots in Clerk’s office

Sept. 26: Last day to file “write in” candidacy letter of intent

Sept. 30: Last day to submit application for fax ballot, 5 p.m.

Oct. 1: Election day, polls open 7 a.m.-8 p.m.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 523-2271 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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