Brennan: Good luck in picking candidates

By Tom Brennan |

I’ll be doing a lot of coin-flipping when deciding who to vote for in the election this week.

Most of the ballot will be something of a mystery, starting with the question of whether to sell ML&P to Chugach Electric and including choosing between the various candidates for public office.

The obvious problem with the ML&P sale is that the deal was put together and negotiated almost entirely in secret. It might be a good idea, but, like most members of the public, I can’t be sure. The experts, if you trust experts, generally say the big utility sale is a good idea and one that will be of financial benefit to the city.

It’s a huge deal and the Chugach ratepayers, including us, will be paying for it. The Chugach leadership say rates won’t rise and there won’t be any major layoffs as a result of the sale. That’s good news if you put much faith in the words “as a result of the sale.” A moratorium on rate increases would be nice, but there is room for weaseling in the words. If management subsequently decides they want a rate increase to make things work they will just have to come up with other reasons than the sale to blame it on. And I guess no layoffs is a good thing — if you are an employee of either utility — but as a ratepayer I think some thinning of the ranks and elimination of unnecessary employees could be a good thing.

There are nine candidates for mayor, most of whom I’ve never heard of. Perhaps they are active in neighborhood politics, but few of them have ever been seen on the citywide scene before. Let’s just say a lot of them have long-shot hopes. The two leading candidates, of course, are the incumbent, Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, and leading challenger Rebecca Logan.

Berkowitz has worked hard in his job, but he is way too far to the left for me. Logan looks like a very viable candidate, very knowledgeable on municipal issues, and will get my vote.

Berkowitz is a former state representative and Democratic Party minority leader. Logan is general manager of the Alaska Support Industry Alliance and a long-time political activist. I was active in the Alliance for a number of years and know it is a skookum industry organization that chooses its leaders well and wisely.

In the School Board race, Don Smith is making a bid for a board seat he last held six years ago. Don is a bit of a wild hare for me so I think I will be voting for Alisha Hilde, a 35-year-old attorney with an impressive resume and what seems to be good thinking ability. And for Seat F I will probably go with Deena Mitchell, a 56-year-old parent, volunteer and homemaker. She is a former advertising executive and economics instructor at Indiana University. For Seat G I have no idea who to vote for. The two candidates are Elisa Snelling, 39, an accountant and incumbent on the School Board, and Irene Weisman, a 21-year-old stay-at-home mom. Both candidates look good but Elisa Snelling has experience and hasn’t embarrassed herself in office that I am aware of.

There are a slew of candidates running for neighborhood boards of supervisors and I wouldn’t have any idea how to sort them out. Hopefully they are known in their communities and the voters will be able to make sense of the ballot.

So get out your coins, folks, and best of luck in picking good people. For good or ill, the ballots go in the mail this week.

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