As all of you who have been tuning in over the last few weeks know, the Anchorage Mayoral Race is underway. On April 7th, that’s just two weeks away, the city of Anchorage will elect a new mayor, who will serve the city, for better or for worse, for the next two years, starting in July.
There are 11 candidates running for the city’s highest office, which gives you, the voter, a lot of choices. So, how do you know which candidate is right for Anchorage?
To help you solve this question for yourself, KRUA has set out to speak with all the mayoral candidates and to give our listeners the chance to get to know what the candidates stand for and who they really are.
This week, on Getting to Know You, we’re going to hear from mayoral candidate Timothy Huit.
Huit originally hails from Los Angeles California. He moved to North Pole, Alaska in 1968. He graduated from UAA and has lived in Anchorage since 1992. Huit is a roofing contractor and works in the private transportation sector. He says he has also worked as a social worker at the Brother Francis Shelter here in Anchorage.
I asked Huit what inspired him to run for mayor.
“What’s inspired me is to give back to my community. And I feel with the education I got at UAA, I’m situated in a position right now to be an effective mayor because we have a public safely problem and I have a justice degree from UAA. And we did a lot of work with community and proactive policing ideas and methods. Also, we have a homeless problem and chronic inebriates and other things like that, and it all seems to be coming together that the education I got and my life experience would be effective at this time for Anchorage.”
Huit says he would like to address crime in Anchorage. He says he would introduce an initiative to switch to community policing and proactive policing. He say that increasing minority representation within the Anchorage Police department to reflect our diverse population is important. Huit says that bar break, or the time when downtown bars close and patrons are required to leave is a concern for him. Violent disputes often happen during the hours around bar break when several hundred, sometimes inebriated, bar-goers meet in the street.
Anchorage’s homeless and chronic public inebriates also weigh on Huit’s mind. He says that the situation is a tiered situation, with housing first initiatives, housing vouchers, and sleep-off facilities. However, responding to complaints of public inebriates can be a drain on the police force.
“First of all, people need to try to work for a living, that’s one of the problems today. A lot of people are looking for hand-outs and don’t want to work. But on the other hand, we have a lot of people with mental illnesses and substance abuse problems, which is a dual diagnosis problem, and socialization issues. So I believe that we need a tiered approach, we need to continue the housing first, like Karluck Manor, when funding is available. Give people that do drink a chance to have a roof over their heads so that they’re not dying on the streets, at least. And then continue the voucher program and public housing, you know, as much as we can with financing. You know, the shelters an effective place for temporary housing. But I do believe there’s a class of homeless people that don’t want help, that live on the side of the street by Brother Francis, live out in the woods. And some of them run as high as 40 to 50 percent alcohol in their blood. And we probably need to design a criteria to detain them and detox them in a situation where we have to detain them because they’re a danger to the public and themselves now. And so we’ll have to find funding for that. It’s just taking those folks off the street. They cost us 60, 70 thousand a year, would probably create enough money for the center, you know. We’d have to do the numbers.”
Huit recognizes that housing is not just a problem for homeless in Anchorage. In a city where housing prices are nearly fifty percent higher than the national average, low and middle income people also find affordable housing difficult to find.
Huit thinks the problem might be solved by providing incentives for private companies to build affordable housing, designating affordable housing zones, and building the Knik Arm Bridge to open up land across the arm for Anchorage residents.
The bridge, he says, is a controversial issue.
“Because it’s in the Mat-Su, would be the property tax issue: that they would collect it. But I think with a memorandum of understanding that we share that property tax and that we work together as two communities. That we could create some affordable housing over there. You know it’s probably not going to get better here. We’re going to have to go up instead of out. We’re going to have to build complexes that are several stories high with the minimal land that we have left. So I think that the future is really across the way, after the bridge is built.”
Politics between Anchorage and Wasilla can cause a problem, as Huit says they have with the MV Susitna ferry, which is another piece of equipment Huit says he would like to see Anchorage put to use.
I asked Huit his opinion about everything that has happened up to this point with the development of the Port of Anchorage.
Huit says that Anchorage has mismanaged the port and he’s not sure the situation can be corrected. He thinks the port at Point McKenzie may be a better option. He says its an idea that some people might not be interested in, since the city has so much invested in the current port.
“But I think we have to be sensible and look to the future. We can’t just be selfish, you know. We’re all one people in this area and as much as we may not get along with the Mat-Su, one of these days we’re all going to be together because if there’s going to be continued growth, it’s not going to be in Anchorage. Because we’ve built this out, unless we’re going to build in our parks and green-lands, which I really don’t think that’s going to happen. So we need to look to the future and realize, hey, we’re going to have to bridge this gap of politics and social ideas and work together for a better future for all of us.”
Huit says that protecting green space is important to him. However, at this time, he says the city is having a hard time taking care of all of its parks. Despite the city tightening it’s belt and possibly having to cut pack of services within city parks, Huit says that he personally believes that the ability to connect with nature within city limits is one of the things that makes Anchorage a great city and a great place to live.
On the subject of green space, I asked Huit his position on the legalization and regulation of marijuana in Alaska.
“I voted for the marijuana law. I think it’s time to get that off the plate of the police and the judicial system so that they can concentrate on harder drugs and other crimes. You know, the time’s come to move on. Many of us know it’s not Reefer Madness like the 1950’s movie. But at the same time, I think we have to be responsible citizens, you know, complete open marijuana at stores is gonna cause some problems just like alcohol.”
While the Anchorage Mayoral race is, by charter, a non-partisan one, partisan politics have a tendency to creep their way in. I asked Huit how he would describe himself, politically.
Huit says that he’s a fiscally conservative, socially liberal centralist with libertarian leanings.
“I really think we need to work hard, you know. I worked hard all my life and I think sometimes people forget that’s what built this country is hard work. I’d like to trim budgets where we can and consolidate things and look for savings. I’m not really in one political camp or the other, I’m in my own political camp, maybe. You know? I don’t think any of us fit into one platform or the other. I think common sense should play into your decisions.”
Huit says that he thinks that some people in government tend to ignore the will of the people and that while crafting legislation about marijuana, legislators should follow Ballot Measure Two closely.
Huit says he didn’t enter the race to win, but now he’s trying to win. He says he doesn’t think that the other candidates have the kind of vision that he has in Anchorage.
“If anything, hopefully we can all work together when it’s all over. And look for good people to solve the problems.”
You’ve been listening to Timothy Huit, candidate for Anchorage mayor.