This editorial is by Anchorage Assembly Chair Felix Rivera and Vice Chair Austin Quinn-Davidson. To submit a guest editorial for consideration, contact Matt Buxton at [email protected]
On the same night the Anchorage Assembly certified the 2020 municipal election results, we also took our traditional leadership vote, electing a new chair and vice chair of the Assembly. Both of us were honored to have been chosen by our colleagues to serve in these roles. Now more than ever, we need leadership that is ready to dig deep and think big. We are committed to leading the Assembly through these tumultuous times.
Business as usual will not cut it. The work we undertake needs to match the severity of the problems we hear loud and clear from residents throughout the Municipality. Soon, after the Alaska Legislature and Governor come to agreement, federal stimulus dollars will be heading our way. The coronavirus has laid bare systemic issues in our society. We must be thoughtful about how we use any funds the Municipality receives to address COVID-19. Our values as a community should be reflected in the decisions we make in the coming months. We welcome your thoughts and ideas throughout this process.
The Anchorage Assembly will also begin a public process to determine the best uses of the alcohol tax, which voters approved in April and will go into effect in February of 2021. This process will include a variety of worksessions, committee meetings, and three public town halls, all of which will take place before we vote on the FY2021 budget in November. We will publish a full list of meetings on the Assembly website and encourage your participation.
This pressing work will take priority, but the two of us have also developed several goals we hope to weave into the Assembly’s work over the coming year. Residents want to know what their elected representatives are doing for them. We should be effectively communicating our work and encouraging broader participation in the public process. Our procedures must be as easy and transparent to follow as possible. We have already started making improvements: Just last week the Assembly voted unanimously to create an additional opportunity for the public to give testimony at the beginning of our meetings. We will continue looking for ways to make it easier for you to keep track of and engage in the Assembly’s work. Finally, we will continue to strengthen our working relationship with the Berkowitz administration so that we can develop a budget and legislative program that fit the priorities of our constituents.
On top of all the above work, the Assembly will be continuing our normal business – focusing on public safety, homelessness, economic development, and quality of life. These are priorities the Assembly adopted in December of 2019, with clear goals and accountability measures that span through 2021. We will report back to the community on a regular basis on our progress and invite you to join this process by engaging with our committees, boards and commissions, and reaching out to us via email or phone. We are here for you. Please reach out to all Assembly members via email at [email protected]
Felix Rivera, Assembly Chair, and Austin Quinn-Davidson, Assembly Vice Chair