Oliver Schiess is a candidate for Assembly District 2 - Seat A - Eagle River/Chugiak in the 2019 Municipal Election. If elected, he will serve a three-year term for the Assembly for the Municipality of Anchorage.

KTVA asked Schiess, 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 Schiess'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?

Yes, I am in support of the proposed Alcohol Sales Tax. Residents within my community are concerned with crime and homelessness which cannot be ignored. Public safety workers, such as police and firefighters, agree that utilizing revenue generated by the alcohol tax to treat homelessness and substance abuse is an effective and fiscally responsible way to enhance public safety. We cannot continue the cycle of evicting homeless camps without addressing the root causes or providing affordable housing opportunities. This has only served to push these homeless community members to areas like my community in the Eagle River - Chugiak area
while wasting time and resources that could be used elsewhere.

Question 2 – Anchorage has experienced a growing problem with homelessness. What will be your approach to addressing these issues, and at what cost?

As mentioned above, the alcohol tax would play a key role in addressing the growing homeless populations if approved by Anchorage voters. With or without this ballot proposal, we as a city need to address the underlying drivers of homelessness, which are high unemployment rates, mental illness, addiction, and lack of affordable housing. We must also promote and support private and non-profit efforts in this area in order to minimize the financial burden on the residents of Anchorage.

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?

If these proposed cuts pass, we as a city will face serious hardship and be forced to make difficult decisions in response to the lack of funds. We must all stand tall against these cuts and fight for the Alaska we want. If we want an Alaska that is safe and prosperous, we must invest in education, public safety, transportation, and other critical services. We should always work to find efficiencies and eliminate wasteful spending; however, the drastic burden Governor Dunleavy’s budget would cause could not be addressed through cuts alone. I have become optimistic by the response to this budget, with Alaskans of all political parties and backgrounds standing up to say this budget does not reflect the Alaska we want.

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?

I answered much of this above, but at this time, our number one response comes down to stopping these cuts in their tracks and fighting for the Alaska we believe in. We can do this by contacting legislators and government officials as well as continuing to show up to public events and forums. Beyond that, the Assembly can continue to work to find efficiencies and eliminate wasteful spending, while looking at innovative steps to minimize the burden on the people of Anchorage and ensure critical services are funded.

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?

This relates to the Title 21 building codes which exempt the residents of Eagle River - Chugiak from Anchorage building inspectors. After talking to our community, most residents are opposed to these measures, even after the earthquake, and ultimately, I am here to represent them. Before I support or oppose any action on this matter, I would require ample public input from constituents in our district. One aspect I would support is in requiring public buildings, such as schools, to comply with these building codes, especially after two of our schools were devastated by the 7.0 earthquake.

Question 6 – There is a need for affordable housing in the municipality. How will you foster this?

We must ensure that there are ample opportunities for affordable and quality housing for Anchorage residents. A key reason that housing is so expensive is that our city’s primary source of local income comes from property taxes. We should work to find innovation and alternative revenue sources based on public input to reduce this burden on Anchorage homeowners and renters. We must look into government grants and new income sources, as well as the private and non-profit sector to promote safe and affordable housing in Anchorage.

Meet the other candidates running for a spot on the Anchorage Assembly, in the order they're presented on the municipality website.

Correction: This story has been edited to correct the last name of the candidate.

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