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PUBLISHED: 3:57 PM on Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Candidates field questions at NOW Forum

Courtesy photo
  Candidates running for assembly and mayor at a Sept. 13 forum are, from left, Mark Stopha, David Stone, Sara Chambers, Jean Christian, Bruce Botelho and Brad Fleutsch.
The 2006 candidates for Mayor and Assembly answered a wide range of questions for an hour and a half at the 2nd Annual NOW Candidates Forum held at the Junior Senior Center on September 13th. NOW President Kate Burkhart, the forum moderator, read twenty questions submitted by audience members on everything from fluoridation, the parking crunch downtown, the sale of the Scottish Rite Temple to the state, to the second crossing from Douglas to Juneau.

When asked about the new Planned Parenthood Center, a priority issue for NOW, both candidates for mayor gave their endorsement without hesitation.

After the debate, Assembly candidates Jean Christian, Sara Chambers, Mark Stopha and David Stone also voiced their support for the new facility.

In his remarks, mayoral candidate Brad Fluetsch, a financial consultant repeated several times that, "Juneau is dying."

He referred the audience to the Juneau Economic Development Council's Juneau Economic Overview and said building the road out of Juneau would reverse the downward turn of both the economy and the demographic diversity of Juneau.

In his closing statement, Bruce Botelho said that he would continue to pursue a new capitol campus if re-elected.

He stressed his skills as a consensus builder and problem solver as key strengths he brings to the job of mayor.

District 1Assembly candidate Mark Stopha brought a fisherman's perspective to the forum, educating the audience about the value of the fishing fleet to Juneau and the critical importance of support from the city to keep these small business owners in Juneau.

In his closing statement, Stopha said, "The commercial fleet is Juneau's Permanent Fund. It would be a shame if we lost the fleet because we wouldn't support our fishing industry."

David Stone, Stopha's opponent in the race, said that he has learned that it's important to do your homework and be a good listener on the Assembly. He noted he's often changed his vote after listening to what the public had to say.

Stone also said he would like to see a new Performing Arts Center in the vacant National Guard Building. Stopha agreed, with the caveat that the Center support itself financially.

District 2 Assembly candidate Jean Christian stressed affordable housing, a comprehensive recycling program, and a high quality of life for all Juneau residents. Christian also suggested several ways to improve transportation in Juneau, including encouraging Park and Ride centers. She answered in the affirmative to a question regarding a possible ordinance prohibiting junk cars and junk boats on people's property. This was one area where the two candidates differed with Chambers saying that she would not support such an ordinance. In her summation, Chambers said, "Across the board, we have to address the housing and affordability issues in Juneau to stem the tide (of young people leaving town)."

Both District 2 candidates said that whichever way the election turns out, it will be good to have a woman on the Assembly, a comment solidly endorsed by NOW.

For those who missed the NOW forum, the League of Women Voters "Meet the Candidates" reception and Candidate Forum for School Board and Assembly candidates will be at 6:30 on September 27th at the City Assembly Chambers.

The League forum will also be broadcast live on KTOO-FM and will be videotaped by KATH-TV for broadcast at various times prior to the election.

NOW meets the second Wednesday of each at 5:15 in the downtown library conference room.

For more information about the Juneau National Organization for Women, visit www.juneaunow.org or call 209-8602.


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