Once each year, the Borough Assembly meets in Seward and in Homer. Last Tuesday, as I drove from Seward, the view was stunning. The leaves were bright, the light was right, and at stops along the way people were smiling and feeling the effects of some autumn sunshine. Driving along, I thought yet again of how truly blessed we are to call this wonderfully unique place home; the perfect setting for communities brimming with the quality of life.
It’s those quality of life issues that make the Peninsula more than just a pretty face. It is quality schools, a good and diverse economy, and most of all quality people caring about their community. As a candidate, quality of life issues are what make me want to throw my hat in the ring.
I’ve been privileged to serve the past six years on the Assembly, working with good people in and out of government trying to improve the quality of life we enjoy. Now, our challenge is to keep what we’ve got; to not go backwards. Anyone involved in private sector businesses learned early on that success is not a free ride; our long term expenses could not exceed our income. Faced with rising expenses, several choices could be made. Costs could be cut, so a cheaper product could be made and sold at a constant price to sustain profitability. Volume might make up the shortfall, selling more units at the same per-unit margin. Or, quality could be maintained, with the increased cost passed on to the customer. Customer choice ultimately determines which or what combination of these strategies determines success or failure.
The same principles apply in the public sector. We can choose to compete on price, volume, or quality. If we choose to compete on price, quality must take a back seat. We can’t have it both ways, even though sometimes we would like to think so, and most of us know that. The economies of scale in the “make it up in volume” theory in private manufacturing sometimes works backwards in providing public services. For instance: a double income family with two kids spends their entire $100,000 take-home on taxable sales (unlikely on both counts), that’s $2,000 in sales tax to the Borough. Combine that with $900 in non-service area property tax, and we come up with almost the Borough’s share of the yearly education cost for one child. So, volume alone is clearly not the answer. In order to maintain that which makes the Peninsula such a special place to live, I believe the clear choice is to compete on quality.
We all know that you get what you pay for, that quality goods are not cheap, and cheap goods are not quality. We on the Peninsula are a proud people, and I believe we deserve the best in education, roads, and services. I further believe most of us are willing to pay our fair share, and know what our fair share should be.
Further, I don’t believe the voters of the Peninsula are so ignorant, as some would suggest, to keep electing people whose only purpose is to waste taxpayer money. Instead, I believe they have made generally sound and conscientious choices towards quality spending on quality services.
If that quality is to continue, voters need to stand strong at this election and make their voices heard. A shrill and braying chorus, with no responsibility for the consequences of their actions, is asking you to choose price over quality, swearing that you can have it both ways. They are asking you to handcuff Borough revenues, with the counterfeit pledge that only then will misuse and squander be eliminated, and with no effect on services. Don’t believe it. The fat has long since been purged; we are now close to the bone.
I’m sure these comments will be rebutted loud and long on these pages and elsewhere, and for them I’ll be called liar, cheat, and lots more, but that doesn’t frighten me. If, in some small way through word and deed, I can help preserve the quality of life we cherish, I will wear those accusations with pride. What frightens me most is that, through intimidation, false promises, or simple repetition, playing to the lowest common denominator will in a few short years turn this Borough into a place few will be proud to call home.
Thanks to Peninsula citizens for your support over the past six years. I would appreciate it for another three years.
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