I thought hard about what to talk about this week.

A look back at the top stories of 2016 would be a little depressing in my opinion.

We lost icons like Muhammad Ali, Arnold Palmer and John Glenn. We witnessed the worst mass shooting in the history of America, in the name of Islamic terrorism. Politically, we endured a painful presidential election calculated to divide the country, which succeeded so well, the divisions remains deep and potentially indelible.

In Anchorage, it was the most violent year in the city’s history, with more than 30.

In Alaska, we’re now officially in a recession, according to the Alaska Department of Labor, though we hardly needed the reminder. And throughout the year, we continued to drain our state’s savings accounts, without a plan to raise revenues or balance the budget.

So lets forget about 2016 for a moment.

Here are my hopes for 2017:

I hope the Alaska Legislature takes the first steps toward a long-term fiscal plan that cuts the budget wisely, and requires each of us to share the load.

I hope an administration and a Congress that shares the same party can break the gridlock in Washington D.C., while still protecting the freedoms of all Americans.

I hope that Congress succeeds in reforming our health care system and can find a way to make insurance dependable and affordable without throwing millions of Americans off their plans.

I hope Anchorage becomes a safer place, with increased communication and partnership between police and communities.

And I hope for a more civil discourse in our country and our community. We’re using social media to mock and ridicule ideas rather than debate them. We’re using the public’s airwaves to incite distrust and hatred based on political ideology. And while I know that’s not going to stop, I know that we don’t have to support it or engage in it.

There’s some common ground out there; here’s to finding some of it in 2017.

Whether you agree with me or not, I wish you all a happy New Year.

John’s opinions are his own, and not necessarily those of Denali Media or its employees.

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