Alaska born, Denali Borough raised, I returned to Healy in 2006, to raise my children here.
Healy is a wonderful place to raise a family.My children, as I was, have been blessed with family & friends who have cared for them, teachers and coaches who have watched them grow and stayed part of their lives, community members who led by example and opportunities to be engaged, active and contribute.
The first person who approached me about running for mayor in 2020 got a chuckle. So did the second. By the third, I thought "what is happening here? I'm not a politician!"
It wasn't until this spring, when I was approached by someone I consider a leader in our community, that I began to seriously think about running.
Initially, I struggled to find "my why". (Book: 'Start with Why', Simon Sinek) As I sought the counsel of friends, colleagues and those with political experience, the 'why' became apparent.
I've spent the last 6 years as the Executive Director of Denali Chamber of Commerce, and the last 3 years as the Executive Director of Discover Denali, working to develop our community and address a wide range of needs, issues and ideas.
I have a wide range of contacts across many industries, from public entities to private corporations, and including state and federal lawmakers.
Serving as Mayor of the Denali Borough would allow me to continue that work, on a broader, more impactful scale.With a team and a budget, I know some of the very things I've spent my time working on, could very well happen for the Denali Borough.
My 'why' hasn't changed.I believe it is the responsibility of every citizen, to contribute to their community through action (no matter how small), to grow and strengthen their home and support their neighbors.
It would be my honor to continue to do so for my community, friends, neighbors and family.
Denali borough specifics
I think Mayor Walker and his team, and the Borough Assembly are top notch.The fiscal health of the Borough, the foresight of planning for the future, response to crisis and states of emergency, we do so many things well.Our borough is in good shape.
Yet, there is still work to do in planning for our future.Eight years ago, I participated in the Healy Transportation and Pedestrian Safety Committee, which provided feedback for Borough planning.The coordinator of the process made a comment that I think about often with my work: "do you want to intentionally plan for the future of your community, or do you want to be Wasilla (sorry Wasilla)?"There are challenges and growing pains ahead that we need to plan for.Keeping a balance between the small towns we love, and the growth we are experiencing is important.Ensuring there are opportunities for growth is important as well.
The economic base of the Denali Borough government is our tourism industry. Covid-19 demonstrated the danger in an "all eggs in one basket" approach.Building a community with intention requires serious conversations and intentional decisions for a organized future.
Denali borough specifics: continued
It is time for us, as communities, to evaluate ways to diversify and ensure we have the financial resources to support our priorities - despite pandemic, forest fire, landslide, flooding or other factors that could potentially devastate future tourism seasons. How do we get there? What are we committed to as a Borough? What are we willing to invest?What is our hardline for saying no?
How do we share our open spaces with visitors, while preserving them for residents? How do we ensure land for homes and businesses, and ensure harmony between land owners? How do we tackle availability of housing, seasonal and year-round, to ensure that the workforce we need has a place to live? What opportunities can we encourage or provide, for workforce development - to upskill the residents we have, to fill the jobs we have open?
As an individual I often struggle with the melding of what I want for my family and personal experiences, and what I recognize as growth and development that is good for my community. But finding a path forward and establishing middle ground is something I'm good at.
I'm ready to tackle the next set of challenges for the Denali Borough and firmly believe, everything is figureoutable.
AREAS OF FOCUS:
Through partnership, advocacy, grants,andBorough actions.
Board of Directors, Fairbanks Basketball Officials Assoc.
Relevant Duties Include:
Organizational management,contracts and policies, HR, payroll, training and recruitment, independent contractor management
2017 - Present
Executive Director of Denali Chamber of Commerce
Relevant duties include:
Attention to Local, state and federal laws, policies and regulations impacting local business and commerce,collaboration and response with Statewide agencies,attendance of Denali Borough Assembly Meetings, advocacy and communication statewide for economic health and growth, understanding of social/environmental/economic challenges for the Denali Borough, complete organization management, community engagement, public speaking and more.
2020 - Present
Executive Director of Denali Visitor Center
Relevant duties include:
Attention to statewide policy, development and growth of Alaska's tourism industry, marketing, website and print creation, staff management, complete organization management, social media and public outreach and more.
2022 - Presently Pursuing:
Small Business Administration
University of Alaska Southeast
* Estimated completion Spring 2025
Certificate of Organizational Management
Institute of Organizational Management
* Will complete January 2024
More about me
How I Feel About …..
Solitary Hiking/Camping Adventures
Classical Orchestral Pop Music
Watching My Kids Play Hockey
Vanessa Jusczak was raised in Healy and has chosen to raise her family here. I think having that background to our community is an asset for a candidate for Denali Borough Mayor. Her leadership in the Denali Chamber of Commerce has given her the experience to understand our community and economic development needs.
While I made my decision to run some months ago, my temporary, primary focus needed to be the health of the organizations I am entrusted to run.
I didn’t want to announce until I had spoken with both my board presidents, and some work was completed behind the scenes.
We have ensured both organizations are prepared for a possible transition to new leadership, and poised for growth and success.
It was REALLY hard to field questions at the store, the library, the post office, the soccer games - and NOT spill the beans.But timing and preparation is important, and I feel this was the correct avenue for me to take.
That being said: THANK YOU! Thank you to all the people who encouraged me to run, told me they would vote for me, expressed their trust in me, and told me I had their support - even as I remained silent.
It has meant so much through this planning stage, even though at times it felt so awkward and sneaky.
If you’d like to officially go on the record as a supporter, please click the image below to email my campaign address, and add your name to the list!I’d love even more, if you shared YOUR why!
My name is Liz Reeves-Ramos, I am endorsing Vanessa Jusczak's campaign for Mayor of the Denali Borough. While Fairbanks is now my home, I grew up in the Denali Borough and want to see it continue to prosper and thrive and believe that Vanessa can lead it effectively. I have known Vanessa my entire life and have always looked up to her. When I heard she was running for Mayor of the Denali Borough it just made sense. A natural progression in her continued invovlement in a place we both love. I know Vanessa has strong ties to the Borough, when so many area kids grow up and leave, she stayed and raised her family there. She is passionate and involved with the community. She has stayed involved in the workings of the Borough through her work and volunteer time. She knows the Borough and understands what it takes to run it efficiently and effectively. She has an extremely thorough knowledge of the Visitor Industry and its effect on the Borough. I ask you for her vote on November 7th.
Assemblywoman Elect for The Fairbanks North Star Borough.
As a local business owner and having served on the Denali Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, I’ve seen first-hand how much Vanessa cares about this community. We’d all be hard-pressed to find anyone who cares more. The goals Vanessa has outlined for her vision for Denali, are all points I’ve heard her passionately speak about for years. Given the platform of Mayor, I have no doubt that all of those goals would be accomplished in spades. The communities in the Denali Borough would benefit greatly with her at the helm and would be fortunate to have her.
~ Jessica Rinck
I think one of your best attributes is that you like sitting down and having conversations with people from different backgrounds and ideas. It makes you an extremely strong person that can see things from multiple facets.
~ Lacey Gaddis, former resident
You have ALWAYS been a leader. You are hard working and dedicated. You put your heart in everything I've ever seen you do. You're personable, funny, and intelligent. You truly understand and love this borough, that is why I feel you would be a huge asset. You have my support 100%
~ Bobbi Jean Stewart
I'm writing to encourage you to join us at the 8th Annual Confluence Summit, Our focus is on regenerative economic development at the intersection of outdoors, travel and culture.I've heard from a couple people in the past two days who think you would be an excellent person to join the conversation and encouraged me to reach out to you to help us shape a regenerative vision for the region.If nothing else, I hope this makes you smile knowing that you've built a stellar reputation.
Opening land for housing & community development
Land access and availability is the single largest obstacle for growth of the Denali Borough.
We have made some good forward movement in this area with the Denali Borough Land Planning Commission actions over the last several years.But the wheels of government are slow, and we need to examine other solutions as well, such as discussions with current large scale land owners and the Alaska Railroad.
The lack of affordable, accessible and year-round housing prevents some seasonal residents from establishing Borough residency,prevents current year-round residents from upsizing due to family growth, requires some renters to move every six months and limits availability of homes to purchase.
This directly impacts local business ability to hire and retain employees, fully cover all organizational positions, expand their operations and reduce turnover.This impacts our largest, year-round employers significantly, and often impacts seasonal workforce as well.
This is an issue the Denali Borough needs to address through partnership with local residents, the State of Alaska, housing developers and local partnerships.The reality is, what we work on today might come to fruition many years down the line.
We are playing catch-up to the needs of the Borough communities where affordable, quality housing is concerned.
To fully understand the Denali Borough housing market and it’s impacts on residents and employment, we needed data.A better understanding of what kind and type of housing is needed, the number of current nightly rentals, the number of substandard homes, and accounting for seasonally used (owner occupied) homes will all give us a better idea of realistic needs, areas of focus and potential action.
We have no cohesive approach to cultural, sustainable or ecological tourism,Borough beautification and signage, access and transportation services, long term planning for our tourism industry, and how it merges with our homes and lifestyles.
These are conversations that are happening around the State, that the Denali Borough needs to be engaged and active in.Whether this is accomplished with partnership through organizations and businesses, or through the Denali Borough Community & Outdoor Recreation Committee or the Planning Commission - it is long overdue.
With tourism being responsible for nearly 80% (and growing) of the local tax revenue, it is time we support the industry that has supported us.That can look like many things - and each of them will better the Denali Borough, in addition to the visitors, residents and businesses served.
Through support of regional partners, such as the Denali Chamber of Commerce, Railbelt Mental Health, Denali Borough EMS and fire departments and the Denali Borough School District, I believe it is possible to train local residents to meet local demand for year-round skilled positions.
Let’s face it - the cost of education and training can be prohibitive to those seeking new job skills - especially when those classes must be somewhere else, and require additional monetary commitment for lodging, gas etc.Supporting those already living in the Denali Borough helps keep our talent local.Many of our needs come from volunteer vacancy .... there are not as many people stepping up to support our communities through personal action (fire, EMS for example) and growth in some areas has made this no longer practical.
On top of employment opportunities, general education experiences can also be provided.I love the model of Delta Partners for Progress, and would work hard to establish a Denali Borough relevant version for our long term Borough growth anddevelopment
While this speaks to training and upskilling, it also goes far beyond that.Working together with regional partners sets the stage for all of us to be more successful.The Denali Borough already does this well in many areas (State of Alaska DOT and NPS immediately come to mind).
Highlighting our successes naturally invites more participation and collaboration.We need to continue partnerships with significant organizations and entities, as we build a strong, Borough wide coalition to meet our needs, plan for our future and play to our strengths - without any one group having to carry the full burden.
The addition of Community Development Director to Denali Borough staff has been key in our successes thus far, and provides connection to partners in a critical way.
Additional areas of collaboration should include:
Mental health services
Community wellness programs
Recreation and engagement site opportunities
indoor & outdoor
sport and venue
Aging population needs and programs
Destination marketing for the Denali Borough in its entirety
No one likes the “T” word (taxes).As changes happen within the Denali Borough, I frequently hear speculation on when property, income or sales taxes will arrive.It is important to remember the code of the Denali Borough prohibits the creation and implementation of any tax, without a vote of the people.
That being said - as more services are requested by Denali Borough residents (think road maintenance or trail systems)- these are conversations we need to have.Do we want to provide some general services to our communities?Do we want to build and maintain infrastructure?If we do, how will we pay for them, as residents or a government?How much are we willing to pay?How do we ensure equality for all residents(Borough wide) for services and infrastructure we might provide?
Additionally, Covid showed the dangers of the current revenue streams we have.How can we diversify our financial base in a way that ensures fiscall health and success, even through unforeseen circumstances?Our forward funding model, combined with hard work on the behalf of our Mayor, Borough Assembly and school district are WHY we came through Covid and the resulting financial impacts as well as we did.But it is our responsibility to react with planning and adjustment to mitigate the impacts of a future similar situation.
Without a doubt, those conversations will evoke emotion and likely some anger.But they need to be held anyway - in a way that allows for everyone to be heard, information and suggestions to be gathered - and residents to be part of the solution moving forward.
Many of the things we need in the Borough could absolutely be provided by private industry.Housing, skilled workforce, support industry, locations for development all play a role in attracting or repelling potential businesses.
Most municipalities have incentives and data to offer businesses who might be considering moving into an area.For example: low tax rates, growing population, available land sales, good infrastructure (low power rates, high speed internet, etc), a college or tech school nearby for employment recruitment.
If we seek new business and industry - whether it is medical, skilled labor (plumbing, carpentry, mechanics, etc), services or recreation opportunities , how can we encourage them to chose the Denali Borough over another potential location?
How can we make it easier for them to take the leap?
How can we help them be successful and have longevity?
These aren’t easy questions to answer right now.We need to make headway on this issue, through addressing our housing, workforce and partnership avenues - but also through data, conversations and connections.
Although using Borough lands for decvelopment is relatively recent to the Denali Borough operations, I believe we are moving in the right direction.The partnerships mentioned above, and many others, have already resulted in forward progress for recreation, safety, and community planning.
There are additional avenues for us to explore and plan for.Remember - what is planned for today, often isn’t implemented or created for years to come.Continuing to have forward focused vision will ensure we have the ability to capitalize on opportunities as they arise, as funding becomes available and as the communities of the Denali Borough grow and change.
The planning commission, Community & Outdoor Recreation committee, and the Community Development Director position all help identify and work toward the goal of foresight and planning.Ensuring they have the resources they need to continue, broaden and succeed in their missions in invaluable.Finding ways to successfully educate and engage the public continues to be a challengeand sometimes creates bottle necks with Borough operations and planning.
Having an advancement strategy which aligns growth with responsibledevelopment, through logically staged work isimportant.Ensuring public attention DURING these planning phases to eliminate back tracking and redundancy is critical.For example, despite years of discussion and planning for district wide addressing, many people were still caught unaware.
Please email your questions to email@example.com
Is it ethical for you to have your campaign sign up at the Chamber of Commerce?
The answer has two parts:
First, yes - because I have rented the building for the morning and am operating as a renter and not as an employee. This falls in line with other renter groups, for example: a weekly church group that meets on Sundays and displays their signage as well.
Second, if I was not renting the building, it absolutely wouldn't be ethical. I keep my politics out of my job, and would continue to do so as mayor- and the sign will be removed as soon as my rental period ends.
When you say revenue diversification, is that code for property taxes?
No. It simply means fiscal planning and stability.
Prior to Covid we would have thought we were fiscally sound as a borough, with revenues rising each year - despite no direct action from the Borough.If you attended any borough meetings during that time (borough assembly or school board); then you’ll recall the extreme duress this placed on our financial state. With 80% of revenues coming from one source and 80% of that going to one place (full school funding), our eggs are stacked precariously in one basket.I sincerely hope that we never face a situation like that again. But it is irresponsible for us to assume we won’t.
Without state and federal assistance to compensate for lost revenue, we would still be battling our way out of the hole - likely with significant local impacts, such as closing brick and mortar schools, elimination of grants that support our nonprofits, and more.
So, when I say we need to diversify revenue, I mean, we need to find a way to expand industry which could potentially be taxed (beyond OAT), invest for our future and save as much as possible.
We won’t escape property taxes as a borough forever. But hopefully with sound fiscal planning, we can kick that can down the road indefinitely.
Why me for Mayor?
Self promotion is not my thing. In fact, I’m one of those people that struggles with compliments - they make me uncomfortable.But my campaign advisers (haha) told me if I want to be mayor, I might have to get over that.
The truth is that being the Denali Borough mayor is not just about the relationships and the events happening with our boundaries. Alaska is a big state with small circles - and things happening in other locations certainly impact what happens here.
I want our representative to be someone that has a broad overall view of state issues that impact the Denali borough. I want that person to be comfortable public speaking and engaging people across multiple types of events and venues. I want them to be well written, eloquent and precise. I want them to be respected for their contributions and hard work. I want them to have a seat at the table because they are willing to learn and engage others respectful.
Anyone can have ideas and energy. Not everyone can transfer that into results.
So, in the spirit of self promotion, I wanted to share this email I received a few weeks ago. I have been putting in the work. I’ve been successful at bringing Denali a seat at the table for statewide conversations. But there are miles to go before I rest.
What are your short and long term objectives if elected?
Short term objectives generally fall under two categories. New issues or opportunities that require timely action and emergencies born out of necessity. My immediate short term objective will be to acquire knowledge - of staff operations, schedules and needs - of job intricacies and important relationships - of projects and obligations approaching, etc.
Long term objectives include revenue diversification and stability, economic development and developing partnerships that can help the Denali Borough achieve these goals.
Question of the day: what do you do?
I love this question, because I feel like those who know me professionally generally don’t know me personally, and vice versa.
I actually have two different jobs. There is some confusion about this also, as they are sometimes related and have overlap. But as far as the State of Alaska or the IRS are concerned, they are separate entities.
For my job with Discover Denali, I’m tourism centered. There is website development and design, database management, A LOT of graphic design and production (fliers, pamphlets, magazines), social media, and so much public engagement for trips planning and visitation. I also spend time engaged in statewide tourism as a representative of our region.
For my job with Denali Chamber, I still deal with tourism, but more from a fiscal and planning aspect, as it relates to local issues and business development.Additionally I offer business support in a variety of ways - everything from website hosting, management and design, to workshop hosting, to providing connections and recommendations for collaborations and software. I’ve helped companies complete paperwork to create LLC’s and outline contracts, written letters for lenders, written letter of support for contracts and projects, and designed marketing material. Most of this is on request from members who simply ask.
But that just skins the surface.
During Covid-19 I funneled critical information to businesses for loans and relief programs, even assisting in completion and organization for application. I have provided trainings for a variety of local non-profit boards on best practices and operations.
I invited the Northern Region DOT Superintendent and staff to view the issues in the canyon for operations, safety and access. It has resulted in a redesign of the canyon area to maximize parking, one way loop access and safer pedestrian pathways. It is awaiting funding.
I’ve arranged construction passes for business impacted by seasonal DOT work, and worked with DOT to mitigate impact.
I’ve served on a wide range of committees and panels, both locally and regional, for things like grant distribution, workforce, health and safety and regional planning.
I attend Borough Assembly meetings, regularly review planning commission meetings and land use committee works, to stay abreast of local issues and communicate those to members.
I attend a variety of conferences and forums for education and collaboration with private and public entities.
Recently I’ve been working with private stakeholders to address some of our community needs, and details of that are coming soon.
And in between all of that, I manage two board of directors, provide community and visitor support, record podcasts and videos, plan events and even clean the toilets and cut brush. One of my favorite compliments I’ve ever received was: “you’re so versatile.” And it’s true. The short answer is: I do everything - with a little bit of whatever extra is asked of me thrown in. Kinda like a mayor.
I’ve had quite a few people ask me “if you’re elected mayor, will you still work at the chamber?”
The answer is a resounding, no! The Chamber and Discover Denali jobs are full time positions, and so is being mayor. The work of managing the Borough as it is, and planning for its future, both require complete attention and dedication.
I have transitions plans in place with both organizations Board of Directors, should I be elected. The Executive Director for both positions would be available, and would be hired as two separate positions.
I really appreciate the individuals who took the time to meet with me today in Anderson, who gave me some good food for thought.
I am paraphrasing here, but the summation of the statements were impactful, and what I heard said is this:
The people who have chosen to live in the smaller communities of the Denali Borough have done so with intent, and have no desire for the most fundamental aspects to change. They don’t want things to be bigger or better - they want what they have to be the best it can be. That is a distinct difference and I promise not to lose sight of that.
Candidate Statement #2
Thanks to the individual who reached out tonight, to clarify my position on a topic.
He said he’d heard something from another candidate and was having trouble believing it.
Here’s the thing folks, in a small town we tend to think we know people, or their politics for a variety of reasons: the church they go to or don’t go to, their spouses stances or opinions, the family they are from, the job they work or something someone told us.
We all make generalizations - and often they are harmless. But if it’s something important to you, take the time to do your research and ask the questions. You might be surprised.
My website is a 5 minute read. What question can it answer for you? Please read and share
1. As Mayor, do you see yourself more as a leader or representative? What mayoral duties do you see yourself performing while in your role as leader or representative?
The Mayor is always both a leader and a representative. In broad terms, the Assembly decides where the ship sails, and the Mayor determines the route and deals with issues that arise on the journey. The Mayor supervises staff, and makes budgetary decisions, and all of that requires leadership.But the Mayor isn’t only operating within the Denali Borough sphere. They interact with other municipalities, State and Federal organizations and leaders, and in those capacities they are always representative.The Mayor should be a representative of what the people want for their communities, but they also have a bigger picture with more accurate information - so I believe when decisions are made that affect the Borough, it needs to be a balance of the two.
2. If you were an Alaskan mayor in 2020 who had local emergency medical powers, would
you have mandated masks and/or vaccines to certain/all borough residents?
No. I believe body autonomy is body autonomy. Period. Even within my own household, there are varying views, and some of us are vaccinated and some are not. I certainly wouldn’t force something on someone else that I wouldn’t force on my own children.
3. Should the borough take on road maintenance? What roads should be included? What
would this look like in terms of equipment, maintenance, and employees? Would this
mean an added department? What budget item(s) could be lowered/cut to allow for this
extra expense? Would you propose a new tax to be voted on? If so, what tax?
If you watched the joint assembly and planning commission meeting on this issue, the further the discussion went, the more complications arose. There was no discussion regarding the borough actually taking on the function of road maintenance itself - all options discussed were about potential avenues to fund maintenance - not to do it. And that’s a very important distinction. SO questions about equipment and staff are not applicable.But I do believe even that is a slippery slope.
Grant funding requests started with one organization asking for funds and now it is two, and that number could grow easily - especially now that they know its an option. The Borough can’t fund road maintenance, even a small scale Borough-wide, without taking that money from somewhere else. I do think some road projects could still be funded through the grant program as it currently exists, which also allows the option to not fund requests, when finances don’t allow for that or when other, more important options take precedence.
I am not in favor of a tax for road services. I would be incredibly hesitant to further the obligations of the Borough to fund road maintenance, until such time when it is potentially required due to choices on the State level.
4. A shortage of family housing has become a major issue. What role does the mayor have in solving this? How do you feel about zoning to keep housing available? To what extent should borough lands be used to solve the housing shortage? Should prime railroad lands be pursued for housing? Should non-borough residents/businesses be prevented from buying up all available housing and turning family houses into employee housing or seasonal rentals? Any other solutions?
The mayor can absolutely work towards solutions with other organizations, but at the end of the day doesn’t have any real power to solve this issue. Zoning is certainly something that can be considered broadly -, in terms of residential and other. But we still need to allow for people to operate businesses in their own homes, whether you’re an accountant or mechanic - so that would have to be done very carefully and intentionally.
The land of the Denali Borough should serve the people of the borough and so I think it's great we are opening up land. But what we really need is move-in ready homes and apartments.Any major employer in this town will tell you that THAT is what prevents them from filling the positions they have open today. A borough subdivision doesn’t solve that problem.Railroad land doesn’t solve that problem. The only thing that would solve that problem is getting a developer to build what we need - and that comes with its own challenges, given our location, the number of very high paying projects that are coming down the pipeline with the infrastructure bill and the lack of workforce in the state of Alaska.
As to restricting sale of homes to residents only .... no.If we really want to get serious about housing, there are other less restrictive ways to do that.There is the potential for stipulations on Borough lots - such as owner occupied, or perhaps registered monthly rental providers.I have no problem with anyone, anywhere, owning a home in the Borough that they rent to a local resident.At the end of the day, the seller of a home needs to make the best decision for themselves on the sale of their home - whether that is price point, timeline or any other factor.We shouldn’t restrict that.As to employee housing ..... up to this point, this has mainly been done within the tourism industry.But nearly every large employer in the Borough has at least batted around the idea of building their own housing, in order to fill the positions needed.It is important for our companies and industries to be able to solve their housing issues, as they would like.That benefits our residents and our industry.I wouldn’t want to restrict that either.
Before we make any decisions or limitations, we need a comprehensive housing study. We don’t have real data on that. That is something on the top of my list. We need to know what housing we have and what housing we’re lacking and how much housing has been taken off the market.There’s a lot happening at the state and federal level to examine this and I do anticipate there will be programs coming down the pipeline that the borough could participate in -especially rural programs, if we have completed housing study data ready.
5. Does the Denali Borough have too few, too many, or the right number of employees?
Are you in favor of the current borough practice of hiring out of state or remote
employees rather than requiring all employees live in Denali Borough?
I know in my previous discussions with Mayor Walker he has expressed the need for a deputy clerk. Our current borough clerk has a whole lot on her plate and an immense amount of institutional knowledge, heaven forbid circumstances change and we are without her - we would be in a world of hurt. I do believe that is something worth examining even if it’s just a part-time position. Outside of that, I do not believe we currently need more employees.
I think the question is a little misleading as it is framed, as they have not hired out of state or remote workers, but rather retained a worker who lived here and moved. I do believe the borough is best served by people who know the communities it contains and in the situation we currently have, I believe that standard is met.
Otherwise, I would not be in favor of hiring someone outside the Borough who isn't invested and knowledgeable, unless it was something very specific we couldn’t find a qualified local for, such as IT, where living here wouldn’t help them to do their job better.
6. What services would you propose to add or what issues may come up that would justify
going to the people to vote on an increase in taxes or the creation of a new tax? Would
you propose that residents vote on an excursion tax or a land-use tax? Why or why not?
I wouldn’t seek to add any services at this time. Summer travel this year was not what was anticipated state wide. We didn’t hit 2019 numbers as hoped, and estimates are we might be another few years before we do. Contributing factors to this include:
travel to Europe from the continental 48 was cheaper than travel to Alaska this year
limited accommodations and rental cars continue to be an issue for travelers who want to see and do everything everywhere, where Denali is just part of the journey.
The average traveler spent 30% more than they did in 2019, and that's largely inflation
There’s really significant in-state competition for every visitor to come to Denali, we are competing with the Kenai Peninsula, Valdez, Hatcher Pass - the same places we like to play.