This Q&A is part of a broader candidate survey by the Anchorage Daily News. View the full survey here.
Kevin Cross | District: 2 | Age: 48 | Occupation: Real estate broker, lender and small business owner | Crossforak.com
What is the most important problem facing Anchorage? How would you address it?
The lack of trust and disenfranchisement with our local government. Our current Assembly has behaved in a way that has created great distrust in our system. Actions speak louder than words and the public has been growing more frustrated at what they feel is blatant disregard. We do not treat each other with the respect we want in return. We have allowed special interest and personal agendas to creep into policy, create a lack of civility, and leave the citizens with fewer rights and a large bill. I intend to be an assemblyman for the working class. Everyone deserves to be appreciated and listened to, even if it’s inconvenient or you disagree. Curiosity is the foundation of learning.
Rate Dave Bronson’s performance as mayor. Explain, with specific examples.
Mayor Bronson is working hard to reduce spending and promote cost consciousness. Sadly, there are nine on the Assembly who support big government and higher taxes, which was proven when nearly all the mayor’s budget cuts were vetoed from the $550 million 2022 operating budget, despite our looming budget issues. Even his appointments that should have had little to no issue (example: Carrie Jamie for Animal Control Board) were politicized and treated with hostility, delayed, interrogated, and made suspect. Mayor Bronson was elected because the citizens of Anchorage are tired of “business as usual” in government. It appears not all appreciate that message.
The past two years have been marked by increased civic discord in Anchorage. How would you improve the quality of civic discourse in the city?
It is the job of an Assemblyman to listen to our citizens. We are the extension of government closest to the people. Open dialog and compassion has not been a message the current Assembly has done a good job of communicating. Many would say they have thrown gas on the fire (AO 2021-117). I intend to listen, be grateful, seek first to understand, and I will always support the will of my District, our Community Councils, our residences, and businesses. I will be a messenger for the people of Chugiak-Eagle River, Eklutna, and JBER and not a political activist out to push an extreme agenda.
What’s your vision for improving and diversifying Anchorage’s economy?
Allow business to do business. We lost many businesses because the Assembly and former mayor chose to allow some to prosper and forced others out of business based on fear. Equal protection under the law was ignored. Our mouths were covered while their ears were closed. FEMA funds should not have been used for sheltering homeless but should have been directed to small businesses that were devastated by these mandates. Property tax credits should be offered to business who were shut down, or we should be looking to help with the burden of employment by offsetting the cost of workman’s comp. insurance, which has skyrocketed. With so many businesses needing employees, it should be more difficult to obtain unemployment compensation and less expensive for employers. Finally, we should get off the backs of our contractors and simplify and streamline the planning and permitting departments. We are nearly as difficult to build in as California.
What do you see as the most effective strategies to address homelessness in Anchorage going forward?
Treatment is critical. I have been a landlord for a very long time. I have even worked with Low Income Housing Tax Credit properties, rented to people on AK Housing, Catholic Social Services, PRC, Home for Good, United Way and others. All low-income housing is transitional housing where people are in need of temporary assistance to get through a troubling time. Sadly, the system is mired in people who know how to abuse the generosity of the taxpayer and they have discovered that it does not have to be temporary. There is a group called the “million-dollar club” that is notorious for getting one person in on a lease, then moving multiple people into the unit and destroying the property. The landlords receive no assistance dealing with them, just the bill and a long, drawn-out eviction process. They move out after causing thousands of dollars in damage and driving away the good tenants. Oftentimes the Housing Assistance programs place people who desperately need hospitalization or treatment, but those are NOT required for housing and it’s the landlord who pays. More housing is not solving the problem if there is no provision requiring treatment. I can go on for hours on this topic alone. I have dealt with it personally and helped others firsthand. The lack of support for the property owner, low standards for the tenant, and not tying housing to treatment has created a system that is not meeting the needs of the people.