Three candidates for Haines Borough Assembly shared their views on local economy and politics at a forum organized by the Chamber of Commerce last week. Jerry Lapp, Tresham Gregg and Margaret Friedenauer are running for two open seats on the assembly in the October municipal election.
Each candidate had recurring themes in many of their answers. For Lapp, who works part time for Constantine Metal Resources, one theme was strengthening Haines’ economy so that is flourishes year-round.
“Why I want to be in there is so I can help build a community where families can feel safe, where young families can find work and not have to work away from home,” Lapp said.
Artist and business owner Tresham Gregg also said improving the economy was a priority, particularly the tourism sector.
“Attracting customers, really,” Gregg said. “I mean, we’re all set up to do all kinds of wonderful things with people that come here, but we don’t have them. And to get them here I think is going to take a different approach.”
Southeast Alaska Conservation Council employee Margaret Friedenauer said she hoped to be a voice for a younger generation.
“It’s something that at least among my friends and my generation in this town, it’s one way that I can be more involved and take the concerns of my generation and that kind of thing forward for our community,” she said.
The candidates agreed with each other in many of their answers. When Chamber of Commerce Director Debra Schnabel asked what personal qualities they would bring to the assembly, each said they were good listeners.
“I think my best quality is I’m a good listener,” said Lapp. “I listen to what people say around the community. And you try to act on what you hear. And I think I’m open and I’m fair.”
Friedenauer said her experience as a former KHNS News Director made her well-informed.
“Going to all the meetings that I could possibly attend the past four years, and having all that information in the back of my head, I think brings a certain depth of knowledge,” Friedenauer said.
Gregg said aside from being a good listener, he is also willing to speak his mind.
“I’m not afraid to speak out and say what’s on my mind and the creative solutioning that might go into solve any particular issue,” he said.
Gregg and Friedenauer called for more public involvement in the political process.
“I’m unhappy with the kinds of treatment that people who do speak at the assemblies get,” Gregg said. “You either get ignored or you get put down. I think we should be fostering in creative ways for people in the community to have a voice in what is going down.”
“If you want the public to buy into what you’re doing, you have to give them an opportunity to be involved and active and participate in it,” Friedenauer said.
Another similarity came up when resident Bill Kurz asked the candidates’ views on marijuana regulations. Friedenauer said she thinks there should already be a local task force planning for how Haines should deal with the legalized sale of marijuana.
“I think there’s a lot of opportunity in regulating the sale of marijuana,” she said.
Lapp agreed that there should be local task force working on the issue. He suggested Haines look to other states that have already dealt with legalized recreational marijuana regulations to learn from their mistakes and successes. Gregg said if money from marijuana sales could be put into community development, it would beneficial to everybody.
Of the three candidates, Lapp is the only one who has served on the assembly before. He has also served as mayor of Haines. He took a short break from public office before deciding to run for assembly again this term.
“I found out that being on the assembly gives you a feeling of accomplishment because you’ve helped out your community,” Lapp said. “You’ve helped solve some of the problems, you’ve helped create economic development so it’s a good place to live.”
The candidates are vying for seats that are currently occupied by Joanne Waterman and Dave Berry Jr. Both opted not to seek re-election. Voters will cast their ballots Tuesday, October 6th.
Haines residents will have another opportunity to hear from their assembly candidates at a forum organized by KHNS this Thursday, at 6 p.m. in the Chilkat Center. If you have a question for the candidates, email it to email@example.com, or arrive early to write a question for moderators to ask.