GOP Senate hopeful addresses chamber

Posted: Monday, August 14, 2000

Republican District E Senate candidate Brad Brown told the North Peninsula Chamber of Commerce Thursday that if he is elected, his agenda will be public safety.

"Commercial fisheries -- I've got some background in that commercial fisheries," he added. "I want to be able to go back to Southeastern and fish like I did when I was a kid. I'm afraid to now, because I'd probably end up in jail."

He also favored reducing the student-teacher ratio in public school classrooms.

"And I want to see to harvesting our timber, but doing it in a sensible manner that we're not going to be clear-cutting and destroying the ground..." he said. "But I think it's very harvestable. We want to harvest it before it gets killed by fire or killed by spruce beetles."

Brown, 52, moved to Ketchikan with his family at the age of 4 and graduated from high school in Sitka. He served with the Navy Seabees in Vietnam and with the military police in Texas. Then, he worked construction and commercial fishing in Sitka. He joined the Alaska State Troopers in 1973 and retired just last year.

Now, he lives in Anchorage, drives a truck and works as a consultant. He would like to unseat incumbent Sen. Jerry Ward, R-Anchorage. He said public safety has long been a priority.

When the troopers assigned him to Anchorage in 1995, he said, "the Seward Highway was the bloodiest stretch of road in the state."

He stepped up enforcement in the area and wrote more than 450 tickets himself. Of every three traffic stops troopers made in the area, on average, two brought arrests on outstanding warrants or for driving with revoked or suspended licenses.

"As a result of that, the balance of '95, '96 and '97 through our stretch of highway were virtually fatality free," he said.

Now, though, there are only about 240 troopers, down from more than 400 in the 1970s.

"The population hasn't gone down," he said. "Crime hasn't gone down. But the personnel coverage went down. We need to get some emphasis again on public safety."

He also favored increased emphasis on education. He said he put his son in a charter school because his public school classroom had roughly 35 students, including several with disciplinary problems and special needs.

"It was crowd control in his classroom," he said. "... We need to limit the size of the classroom."

A speaker in the audience asked about state maintenance of North Miller Loop.

"The highway maintenance was atrocious," he told Brown. "We had four rollovers there, because the speed limit -- if you went faster than about 30 miles per hour, you'd lose control of your car just driving down a straight section of the road."

Elsewhere on the peninsula, he said, those conditions would be unacceptable.

"Yet somehow, they said that that was an acceptable risk for Nikiski," he said.

He asked Brown whether he would tolerate conditions like that.

"I didn't when I was in the troopers," Brown said.

He said he once threatened to arrest a state maintenance foreman for reckless endangerment in order to get road equipment moving on a poor stretch of the Parks Highway.

"You can't compromise safety," he said.

Brown said he had not decided whether to support a state income or sales tax, and he will have to get to Juneau before he will know where to find the money for more troopers and teachers.

"Until I find out a little more what we have on the books, what we have to work with, I can't give you an answer on that," he said. "The (Alaska Permanent Fund) dividend, we're not going to cap, because the citizens said 'no.'"

He suggested cutting management to put more workers on the front lines. He said Alaska also might ask the federal government for help with offshore fishery enforcement.

He opposed a ballot proposition that would cap municipal property taxes at 10 mills. If that passes, he asked, what will stop municipalities from raising other taxes? Communities that already have sales taxes could see those rise, he said. Anchorage, which has no sales tax, could adopt one.

He suggested limiting the Legislature's time in Juneau and taking time for workshops with the public to brainstorm the issues. The Legislature could adopt solutions that emerge from the workshops, he said.

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