These are the questions pose by Alaskans for Truth and mayoral candidate Walt Monegan's unedited response.
1. With so many possible candidates for Mayor crowding the field what attributes, skills, or experience do you feel you have that makes you the best choice for the job?
WM: Of the dozen or so candidates remaining, some have worked in government positions prior, but I am the only one that has worked as an executive administrator at both the municipal and state levels. My prior positions were with critical and high profile organizations watched by the public, the media, and other governmental agencies. I have faced challenges and crisis and had responded appropriately and professionally. So, my integrity is proven, not just promised.
2. What is your plan for dealing with the coming economic difficulties facing Anchorage in the next few years? Please be as specific as possible.
WM: Our economic difficulties are two fold: the still moving target of our municipal budget shortfall; and, the unknown extent and impact to our state and local economy by our declining national AND global economies. We must focus on what we can control locally, so we must focus our levels of service on a priority basis, meaning public safety, health, and transporation, and to the degree other municipal services support these priority services. Yet, we must also streamline our processes to encourage local business and industry growth and development. Add to that, an aggressive approach to grow our community attractiveness for tourism. Alaska will always be a draw to our fellow Americans, and to many of our global neighbors as well. We need to promote Anchorage as a destination, rather than a stop. So, I want to work with many of the "tools" we already have, but in perhaps a more collective and comprehensive manner that we have had in the past. Then, when our visitors return to their homes in Altanta, Tokyo, or Dillingham, they will tell their friends and neighbors that they want to RETURN to Anchorage.
3. How do you feel about the possibility of implementing a sales tax?
WM: I would support a sales tax, IF: it provides dollar for dollar relief to property tax under the repaired tax cap; we do not tax grocieries or medicine; we place a 'cap' on the amount of tax on larger purchaces, like a car, boat, or house; and, we 'sunset' the sales tax in 3-5 years, to allow all of us to evaluate its effectiveness and to see if we want to renew it. This tax sales could even aid us in an economic recovery package as well, in that the difference you would then save from your property tax will be money you can either save or spend and either will help our local economy. That difference that is saved from your present property tax will be made up by you, me, and about 300,000 others who live, work, or visit this community. I would like to see sales tax focused on those services we all us, public safety, aspects of public health, roads and transportation. How much would each of us save? We could each 'zero' out the mil rates for some or all aspects of those identified services.
4. What is your view on property taxes? Should they be raised, lowered, or left the same?
WM: If Proposition 9 [Repair the Tax Cap] passes, that would place the payments in lieu of taxes for our municipal utilities and enterprises, back under the tax cap. Understand that the last tax to place in the tax cap is property tax, so given that the tax cap limit is set by law based of the criteria that sets it, then the more we put into that tax cap other than property tax, the less property tax we will be required to pay. That is another reason, I support a sales tax, as it would be added before any property tax. A long answer that I would like to lower that property tax portion into the repaired tax cap contents.
5. What plans do you have to address the issue of crime in this city?
WM: I have far more familiarity on this issue than any of my opponents, so my answer is not just theorical. The addition of the 93 police officers will have made up the deficit we developed during a 5 year hiring freeze we experienced back in the 90's. Still, the missing component in our community's anti-crime fighting plan is most simply the ... community. Certainly there are neighborhood patrols and Neighborhood Crime Watch (NCW) neighborhoods who significantly aid our public safty efforts; but, we ALL need to step up and become involved, wherther it is reporting crime, suspicious activity, graffitti, or a burnt out street light. To rely on a single department to address a community issue is asking for failure. Appathy is the best way to help a criminal. I will assemble a municipal team to meet with requested community council public safety committees to develop unique strategies to meet the challenges within that neighborhood. These municipal team members will be police, fire, health, parks & rec., and the Municipal Manager's Office. They will have the knowledge and support needed to quickly address the concerns of our community. And the 'tools' that this team will bring include our police officers, Community Service Patrols, NCW, youth programs, family education and support programs, facilities, and much more. I will work with our diverse ethnic and cultural communities in proactive and inclusionary efforts to promote community and individual success.
6. What do you believe will be the most pressing issue facing Anchorage in the near future?
WM: Beyond the economic challenges, it will be energy. As Anchorage is the service and financial center for our state, energy is required for more than powering our homes and businesses. Energy needs for and through our service and financial centers must be met to support Alaska. The Governor's intent upon the creation of an energy corporation would allow the six railbelt power companies to combine their financial assets with state and federal ones to take on the largest and most expensive investiments, like the Susitna Dam. Such projects will have high up front costs, but will provides long term and low cost energy for years; and will allow us less dependence upon ever rarer fossil fuels like natural gas, that could be better spent in meeting our heating needs. And I would work with all those to see such a corporation or authority created, for Anchorage and all the Alaskans who depend on our community.
7. What is your opinion concerning the large number of Alaskan politicians that have found themselves facing charges of ethics violations or criminal behavior? And what reason do you suspect is to blame for this unusual level of unethical behavior?
WM: Having been involved in law enforcement for a while, I suspect as this has occurred in many places many times before, this has been ongoing at varying degrees here for years. Remember George Hohman? Power, money, and ego create prime habitate for crime. What has allowed this to get to this level is the same environment as that what allows neighborhhods and communities to degenerate; appathy. Each of us can get caught up in the challenges of our immediate lives and our attention to our surroundings can drop off. When that happens, there are those who will take advantage of that situation believing that personal gains can be made when no one is either watching or cares. The cure is that we must remain vigilant and hold all those in public trust accountable. If we decide to continue to remain uninvolved, then we must keep our FBI busy and our expectations low.
8. What would you like to see put in place to ensure a high level of ethical integrity in the Mayor’s office?
WM: Formation of a Public Integrity Team, that includes representation from the existing [not new] staffs of the Omsbudman's, Legal, and Employee Relations Offices. A team who also will admiister an on-line public intergity database that allows a public listing of complaints, be it of a [unnamed] municipal employee, unit, department, or mayor. Also, aside from each department being responsible for internal policy violations, a public accounting for the number and outcome of such complaints as part of the annual municipal report. All criminal complaints must be investigated by law enforcement authorities as appropriate, but outcomes too should be in the same public report.
9. Is there an incident from your past which you could relate that would serve to illustrate how your own standards for personal integrity were formed?
WM: Do you mean aside from the multiple investigations of my background and polygraph tests, the FBI security clearence investigation, more than one oath and some 35 years in law enforcement sworn testimonies? Perhaps, the most recent and most public illustration was this past year's "Troopergate" investigation that garnered two state investigations and a host of local and national journalistic investigations. There, all but one concluded that I had withstood internal pressure to not violate an employee's due process and contractual rights, our state personnel laws, and my oath to uphold the Constitution and laws of our state.
10. Is there any local or national politician who you find particularly admirable?
WM: There actually are more than a few to include Jay Hammond, but to choose one, I must pick Alaska's Tony Knowles for his integrity and style of leadership.