Meet the candidate: John Weddleton
John Weddleton is a candidate for Assembly District 6 - Seat J - South Anchorage in the 2019 Municipal Elections. If elected, he will serve a three-year term for the Assembly for the Municipality of Anchorage.
KTVA asked Weddleton, as well as those running against him, to answer a few questions about his stance on key issues in the community as part of our election coverage this year. Each candidate was given an equal amount of time to respond to these questions and informed of the set publishing date.
Here are Weddleton's answers to those questions.
Question 1 – An alcohol sales tax will appear on the April ballot to combat substance abuse, homelessness and to increase public safety. Do you agree with the tax? Why or why not?
A ‘no’ vote is a vote to accept the status quo regarding the tragic homelessness and
addiction problems in our community. I don’t accept the status quo.
Question 2 – Anchorage has experienced a growing problem with homelessness. What will be your approach to addressing these issues, and at what cost?
It is very sad this is defining our city. A confluence of economic and behavioral, mental,
and physical health issues drive homelessness rates in Anchorage. We need to treat its
causes before we can solve it. Broadly, I accept the guidance in the Municipality's new plan
'Anchorage Home.’ That plan recognizes there are all kinds of reasons for people being
homeless so it takes all kinds of ways to deal with it.
In general, I have pushed for being more explicit that ‘a roof over their head’ is not a sufficient goal. Our goal for the homeless should be getting them into self-sufficiency.
Also, I have pushed for much more aggressive ‘abatement’ of camping in our parks. We are
somewhat constrained by legal requirements that we can’t boot campers out if they have no place to go. But we can make it a more difficult choice for people by shutting down camps more quickly.
What will it cost? Year round camp abatement is over $ million per year. Treating
alcoholics and drug addicts is shockingly expensive. At the Ernie Turner Center it’s
$20,000 per person per month. Anchorage does not have the resources to do it alone.
Now, we rely on non-profits and faith based groups, federal money and a small amount
to State money. But that’s not enough. If the alcohol tax passes, we will have $11 to
$15 million to work with. That will help.
The cost of not doing anything is higher. The constant crime is a huge expense on all of
us. The most expensive roof is a prison roof. The cost of getting people into homes so
they can start turning their lives around is our cheapest option.
Question 3 – Gov. Dunleavy announced $1.6B in budget cuts in February. As the budget process continues in Juneau, how will you respond to the state’s budget challenges?
The current Governor ran on platform of a large permanent fund check and significant
budget cuts This is what that looks like. Anchorage local government will continue
working to make the city’s finances more self-sufficient and independent of the state.
Question 4 – The governor’s budget will cut about $2.5M from the municipality’s budget and an estimated $146M from the Anchorage School District. How will you respond to these cuts locally?
Actually, the cuts to the Municipal budget are much higher. At this point, we estimate
$6 million in cuts to general assistance, the loss of $2.6 million in Oil & Gas property
taxes and the loss of $400,000 towards public health nursing. In addition will be a
possible $9 million drop in ambulance service fees and unknown cuts due to the drop in
Medicaid, Human Services Matching grants and Alaska Domestic Violence and Sexual
Assault program funds. A drop in our state and municipal bond rating will also cost us.
We have been dealing with reduced State support for my first three years on the
Assembly. While the numbers are much larger this year, the task is the same.
We will continue dealing this by cutting services and taxing to the Tax Cap. This is
difficult. For the past fours years we have absorbed costs imposed by the State like the
$1 million increased charge for using the prison, the loss of State Troopers and less
plowing on State Roads. We have cut the budgets of every department except Police
To cover the almost complete lack of help for the mentally ill, addicts, and alcoholics we
are proposing a tax on alcohol.
When the State won't do its job, the job still needs to be done.
Question 5 – Eagle River, Chugiak and Peter’s Creek residents sustained damage during the Nov. 30 earthquake. Do you support annexing residents to be part of the building safety service area? Why or why not?
At this point, I’m ok with leaving that up to the people outside the ABSSA.
Typically, expansion of service area power takes a dual majority vote. I’m ok with that.
If we see compelling evidence that rampant disregard for our building code lead to
dangerous building, I might consider some heavy handed action but I have not seen
evidence of that.
Question 6 – There is a need for affordable housing in the municipality. How will you foster this?
I don’t like seeing 40,000 cars a day commuting from the Valley. Far more homes are built in the Valley than here in Anchorage. We need homes people want here in Anchorage.
Most of our affordable housing in the last many years has been through organizations like Cook Inlet Housing Authority, Neighborworks and others. That has been a great help but they are limited by the federal funds available to subsidize the building.
We need to create a market where unsubsidized builders can make money building cheaper
housing. We have been chipping away at it. We have been providing more opportunity for
affordable developments with changes to our land use codes. We recently made it much easier to build ‘mother-in-law’ apartments on existing residential properties. We are working to expedite building on Eklutna land at Power Ridge in Eagle River. I am working on redirecting more of our Federal highway funds towards community development goals to help lower the cost of building.
Similar work to encourage building affordable homes will continue.
Meet the other candidates running for a spot on the Anchorage Assembly, in the order they're presented on the municipality website.
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