Sterling resident Marty Anderson, a candidate for Assembly District 5, said he has a lot of respect for assembly member Grace Merkes, the incumbent he's trying to unseat.
But he also believes he has a lot to offer residents of the district and as a young, business-owning father of four, three of whom are still in school. He said he thinks he experiences the same pains and eyes the same goals as the majority of district residents.
"Grace has a good track record. That's a huge advantage," he said, adding, "I think I feel in touch with a larger part of my constituency."
Anderson, 39, has lived in Alaska 21 years. He is president of Marketing, Inspection and Consulting, or MIAC Inc., which provides services to the petroleum industry. He has not held public elected office before.
Anderson said he thinks the assembly has been responsive to the public, but there is room for improvement. Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meetings do take testimony, he said, but rarely are there real give-and-take conversations with the public.
"There needs to be more communications," he said, adding that he's probably said two sentences to his assembly representative since living in Sterling.
"If there were once-a-month meetings with constituents, I think that would help. If I'm elected, I'd definitely do that."
Asked what the borough should do if state lawmakers move to impose a statewide sales tax, Anderson said he hopes the state makes cuts to its administrative costs before going that far. If confronted with an either-or situation between a state sales tax and an income tax, however, he said he'd rather see a sales tax.
"I'd fight both," he said. "But if there were no way out, I'd guess I would go for a sales tax because I have some control over when I spend my money. An income tax -- it just comes out of your paycheck. It gives you less control. I see it (a sales tax) as the lesser of two evils."
Anderson said the borough is doing a good job with roads and waste management. It is education that worries him.
He said he thinks the borough assembly should have line-item veto power over the school district budget as a way to control costs.
On the other hand, budgets tend to get cut when administrators prove themselves capable of saving money by being frugal, he said. Perhaps money saved in one budget should go into a rainy-day fund in the next year's budget so that when an emergency expenditure is required, funding meant for other vital services isn't tapped, he said. Good administrators "shouldn't be penalized for being effective," he said.
Anderson said he supports the bond measure for the new Seward school. The current building is unsafe.
"I'd rather run down along a bumpy road than read a child has been injured in an unsafe building," he said.
He said he support economic development that would provide the kind of opportunities for today's young people that he had when he was young.
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