This Q&A is part of a broader candidate survey by the Anchorage Daily News. View the full survey here.
Vanessa Stephens | District: 2 | Age: 61 | Occupation: Grandparent
What is the most important problem facing Anchorage? How would you address it?
Transparency in government. Finding out where and why the money the municipality receives seems to be funneled into black holes. Municipality voters are not stupid and want to know what’s being done with THEIR money. The Assembly works for the people, not vice-versa. Start following the money.
Rate Dave Bronson’s performance as mayor. Explain, with specific examples.
I’d probably give him a B-. Squabbles and fights, any childish disagreements with the Assembly, only bring public focus to bear on all facets of the administration. And another big reason prompting me to run for the Assembly. The mayor’s uninformed shutting off of the fluoride additive to our public water supply seemed an odd thing to do. And I have yet to hear an explanation.
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?
COVID put people out of jobs, caused businesses to fail, and forced costs for goods and services to rise. Our police force is also severely undermanned. If we take care of APD and we begin a full recovery from COVID I feel things will settle down a lot and crime will go down as our economy recovers.
What’s your vision for improving and diversifying Anchorage’s economy?
Diversifying will take time and hard work. Oil and tourism are what visitors and businesses want more of. We have a beautiful state and, in all honesty, Anchorage seems like a big metropolis dropped in the middle if it. When the Port eventually gets upgraded and finished there will be more options. Expanding the airport may help too. But my feeling, for now, is to maximize and promote our highlights. Even fishing and hunting should resurge now that COVID is receding.
What do you see as the most effective strategies to address homelessness in Anchorage going forward?
The simple answer is to provide shelter and basic services. The longer term solution is to develop or find affordable housing and living space and generate opportunity for those who seek to get off the street. Let’s examine some other cities who have been successful in eliminating or minimizing the problem.