Running for Mayor and Preparing our Community for the Next 20 Years
By Chris Price
I have been a resident of Alaska for over 25 years now, moving to Unalaska in 1995. I have a beautiful, loving, supportive, wife Michelle, and two children, Kanesia and Carter Price. I have been so blessed as a member of the community of Unalaska. The opportunities and benefits of being a part of this great community are truly amazing. I was fortunate to get my Master's Degree from Alaska Pacific University, in Anchorage after getting the APICDA scholarship in 2010. I have had so much support and help in becoming a leader in our great community. I love my work as the Environmental Director of Qawalangin Tribe. I want to see other families get the opportunities I have been able to have for my family over the years. I'm concerned about the state economy and the PFD program.
My opinion is that the Alaska PFD program is one of the best run programs in the state. For years the managers of the PFD have worked to provide a PFD to the residents and at the same time “protect the principal.” Good economic policy, balanced, stable, predicable, is how I would describe the PFD management over my twenty five plus years in Alaska. And now due to political gridlock in Juneau, the entire PFD program is at risk of going from a well-run machine to a stop gap measure, and then potentially off into the oblivion of state spending. My hope is to see our grandchildren with a thriving PFD program well into the next century. We can look to Norway’s PFD program as an example of how maintaining a national permanent fund creates wealth and maintains prosperity for generations to come.
As mayor of Unalaska I will work directly with the City Council and the community to let Juneau know that we can solve the state fiscal crisis without destroying the PFD program as we know it. I know directly how important the PFD checks are annually to so many families here in Unalaska. The PFD helps Unalaskan’s pay for groceries, fuel and utility bills, college savings plans for our kids, and in more recent years the “Pick, Click, and Give” program allows for giving to charities and nonprofits here and around the state.
Let’s keep the PFD program intact for the future of our great state and the community of Unalaska. The state legislature and the Governor have other tools available to fix the fiscal crisis. Let’s make them do their job in Juneau and not take the easy way out by tapping into the PFD. Also on the table is potential state loans borrowed from the Teacher Retirement System (TERS) and the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS). Again, a risky strategy for teachers and pubic employees who should be guaranteed their retirement is secure. Let's work together to push back on Juneau's plans to tap the PFD, TERS and PERS. Let's make Juneau do their job by creating a balanced budget.
This fall’s election comes at a time when our community has matured to the point of building off our base and moving ahead. During the next few weeks as I am campaigning for mayor, I want to discuss the issues that are of concern to you in the community. Some of the main issues that I want to address as mayor are working together as a community to create an affordable long term recycling program here at home. I have a proposal that I want to share with the community that will outline the structure of the program. We can implement an affordable recycling program that not only addresses “recycling” but at the same time addresses waste stream reductions that will ultimately reduce landfill fees, free up more real estate for future development, reducing solid waste costs to the city.
I will also be presenting my Youth Mentorships and Future Leaders Program to the community. We can easily and creatively develop a community wide youth mentorship and job training program, helping stop the brain drain here at home. Let's create opportunities and training for our youth to encourage and support their higher education and training needs as they progress after high school. Let’s provide jobs to come back to in the summer, giving them practical experience on which to build their lives. Let’s promote our own here in Unalaska so that our community can keep a strong sense of identity and purpose as we provide meaningful youth employment opportunities and mentoring.
We need to diversify the local economy! Fisheries is our mainstay, but we need to promote diversification in our local economy. I have a plan for local economic development and diversification that creates job growth and stability. We need to start with developing private-public partnerships to build more housing in our community. This means that the City needs to get out of the housing business and provide economic incentives to developers to spur more development, not to be in competition with private industry. Ask me about it. I feel affordable housing is one of the keys to developing a future minded healthy community, and as Mayor, I will not look the other way as utility bills go up and up. I will address rising utility bills to keep housing affordable and reasonable.
We should work with Fish and Game and the Qawalangin Tribe with a sense of urgency to complete a Red Salmon weir study on Illiuliuk River to get the necessary baseline data on our local salmon streams! Our local environmental resources need to be maintained and enhanced in a sustainable way. Many of us rely on subsistence to provide healthy and affordable meals for our families. Healthy waters and natural resources are what make Unalaska such a desirable place. These resources need to managed in a sustainable way for future generations to come.
Finally, one of the most important issues we have here is bringing high speed internet connectivity to Unalaska and the region. The future of our community depends on this technology and we must be better prepared to deliver this technology to our community and the region. We cannot fall asleep at the wheel on this one. Our communities future economic development will require high speed internet to support industry, health care, schools and growth.
I have a plan to advance these issues in the community, but I need your help. Let’s work together Unalaska. Please let me know what issues are important to you over the next couple weeks leading up to the election. Together we will get Unalaska ready for the new challenges and road ahead. Our community is special. Our people are special. We can inspire and impact the world right here from our Island. Our families, businesses, schools, need protection to ensure a thriving community and our way of life. We must not retreat to the past. We must move forward. We can do this Unalaska.
Thank you for your support as I campaign for Mayor!