Meet the candidate: Crystal Kennedy
Crystal Kennedy is a candidate for Assembly District 2 - Seat A - Eagle River/Chugiak in the 2019 Municipal Elections. If elected, she will serve a three-year term for the Assembly for the Municipality of Anchorage.
KTVA asked Kennedy, as well as those running against her, to answer a few questions about her 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 Kennedy'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?
No, I do not agree with this tax. Taxing our small businesses (restaurants, bar and grill, breweries) and laying the burden predominantly on them is incredibly unfair. It makes no sense to single out a certain group of business owners and make them financially responsible for addressing the substance abuse problems of the homeless population. In addition, typically, taxes that are promised to go toward a specific purpose eventually get redirected into general funds.
Question 2 – Anchorage has experienced a growing problem with homelessness. What will be your approach to addressing these issues, and at what cost?
Homelessness is a very complicated issue because there are different reasons for homelessness: temporary financial hardship, mental illness, substance abuse, and personal preference. To deal with all these issues takes a myriad of approaches that is best left to the professionals and not necessarily government. We have various services offered by non-profits that address the specifics that are based on individual needs. They can help people build a plan for moving out of homelessness and encourage the personal responsibility necessary to follow that plan. The Muni will still need to respond appropriately from a public safety perspective, enforce the law, and protect individuals’ property rights. We have been spending millions on the issue for the past several years and the problem has only gotten worse so we have to rethink those efforts and it’s impact.
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 real work will begin once the budget is finalized and the Muni will have to respond to whatever cuts impact us. This will be an opportunity to fine tune how we do business, what expenses are actually necessary and do many of the things we have been talking about doing for years. We have to know exactly what we are dealing with though before we do anything. That won’t happen until the Legislature’s work is done.
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?
The effort to deal with any budget cuts will need to be based on what exactly we believe to be the primary functions of a municipal government such as public safety and transportation. The Muni is also limited by state statutes and Municipal bond council as to what extent it can respond to any potential financial impacts. As the government lets go of some of it’s overreach into the community there will be opportunities for the private sector to compete in the market and to build their businesses which in the long run improves the economy and increases our tax basis.
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?
The impact of the earthquake in the Chugiak - Eagle River area did cause more damage to some homes and businesses than seen in most areas of Anchorage. However, this was related to our soils and the significantly higher earthquake velocity due to our geographical location. The damage caused had little to nothing to do with building inspections and code enforcement. If that weren’t the case, then even Anchorage’s codes failed many homeowners in Anchorage. A builder is required to build to code no matter where he or she builds. The main difference is that in Chugiak- Eagle River builders are able to hire a qualified engineer to do those inspections less expensively than what the Muni requires for performing the same service. There is no “value added” to our community to have a Muni inspector versus a non-Muni funded inspector at this time. Therefore, I do not support extending the muni building safety service area to Chugiak-Eagle River.
Question 6 – There is a need for affordable housing in the municipality. How will you foster this?
There are several builders who are currently planning high density housing projects in different areas of the Muni as land usage plans allow. As the market drives the demand for these size and cost homes, the building community will respond. One of the functions of the Assembly is to approve these projects as they come forward for approval in compliance with Title 21. I will be looking for compliance with our land usage codes as those projects come forward for approval.
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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