Three candidates running for Ketchikan City Council made their cases at a meeting of the area Chamber of Commerce Wednesday.
Judith Zenge, who manages the Plaza mall, told members of Ketchikan’s business community that her priority would be to create better paying jobs in the city.
“I would like to see more living wage jobs,” Zenge said. “I have spoken to many voters and they would like to have jobs that don’t qualify for food stamps.”
Zenge acknowledged that while she may not be as knowledgeable on certain issues by right of having never been on the council, she has given herself a six-month timeline to learn as much as possible.
City Council members Dick Coose and Matt Olsen are running to keep their seats on the council.
Coose says that if reelected he will make it a priority to keep the city’s budget in check.
“I’m going to continue doing what I’ve been doing,” Coose said. “Watch the city government, keep the budget under control, looking at regulations. I think those are the things that are going to keep the city moving forward and keep us stable, because I don’t think our business climate is stable right now. It’s not good.”
Council Member Olsen told the Chamber – to laughter from the crowd – that even though a Democrat, party politics do not come into play on the council. He says that his priority is to improve and repair Ketchikan’s infrastructure while developing a long term city plan for stability’s sake.
“The one common element to a successful economy,” Olsen said, “is steady government. And if your government is doing this, your economy is going to be doing that. The more stable you are, the better off we are.”
The candidates answered questions submitted by those in attendance at the Chamber meeting, though they were generally in agreement on the issues.
They acknowledged the positive role played by the Southeast Alaska Power Agency. Matt Olsen noted that he hopes SEAPA takes control of a potential dam project at Mahoney Lake.
The candidates discussed what is commonly perceived to be the city’s contentious relationship with the Ketchikan Gateway Borough.
Council Member Coose said communication with the borough is key, and that good relations can be kept by “not throwing darts” at one another.
Zenge said that she has heard quite a bit from Ketchikan’s voters about negative relations between the two governments. She stressed that potential contentions be brought to the joint Cooperative Relations Committee, which consists of members of both the city council and Borough Assembly.
Olsen said that he personally supports consolidating the borough and the city but acknowledges that is unlikely to happen. Zenge and Coose agreed that the possibility for consolidation is distant.
Elections for the Ketchikan City Council, Borough Assembly and School Board are scheduled for October 1st.
Tune in to KRBD on September 26th at 7pm for a live call in show with the candidates for City Council.