Issues

Where I stand on the issues

Mental Health

My family has dealt with mental health issues for as long as I can remember. I, as well, am diagnosed with a mental health condition; however, I am not ashamed. If anything, I am determined to break the stigma. The public stigma that has a negative outlook on those with a mental health diagnosis. The self-stigma where we blame ourselves, have internalized shame about our condition, and fear of being viewed as weak and unstable. The institutionalized stigma that provides less funds and fewer mental health services compared to other healthcare.

The lack of equitable resources in Juneau is a serious concern. We must work with our local non-profit organizations in order to provide more acceptable resources for those who are wanting mental health services. Mental health is amongst the leading causes of suicide, and Alaska suffers the most suicides per capita in the entire country. I will work closely with our non-profit organizations such as NAMI, the Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition, Juneau Youth Services, SEAGLA, and other community partners to develop a plan and deliver action to make resources more equitable.

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Opioid Addiction

This is a topic that is near to my heart. In 2018, I lost a close family friend battling addiction. First and foremost, we must acknowledge that addiction is a disease, not a choice. The opioid crisis is continuously rising. Similar to resources for mental health, substance use resources should be accessible and equitable.

I will fight to ensure those struggling with addiction have easily accessible resources to keep themselves safe in our community. I will partner with the nonprofit Alaska Aids Assistance Association to enhance our community-based syringe exchange program, and promote a needle exchange program. These programs provide drug users access to sterile needles and syringes at no cost and allow them to safely dispose of used needles and syringes. Such programs have been a proven success, and have proven they do not increase illegal drug use or crime. Clean needles decrease infection, the spread of STDs/HIV, and prevent death. A safe place to dispose of used needles keeps dirty needles off of the ground, out of sight, and away from our children and pets. Allocating more funds to the 4As should be a top priority.

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Homelessness

Homelessness impacts our community on multiple levels, but must be approached as a system-wide issue. We need more affordable housing for low income families. We need more space to house people who are wanting to access housing. We need more available resources in order to give people who are homeless equitable access to address a variety of needs.

We need to enhance our program that prepares individuals for job interviews and jobs. Being homeless can effect a person’s mental health, increase crime, and contribute to the opioid crisis. We must make it a top priority to tackle this issue, and help people get back on their feet.

I plan to introduce a new program (or enhance our current one) that provides complimentary classes to help develop career skills, and provide professional clothing for job interviews. I will personally teach courses to develop interview skills as I have a strong background in interview training and platform development. I will solicit qualified volunteers to donate their time to provide professional knowledge to help those willing to take action and connect to resources.. I will partner with our local non-profit organizations such as Saint Vincent DePaul, the Glory Hall, the Family Promise of Juneau, and other community partners to increase clothing drives and food drives. Most importantly, I will pressure council to increase funds to significantly reduce the growing number of our homeless population.

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Reviving Economy

The pandemic has left us in a crucial position. Now more than ever, we need to come together to revive our economy. Tourism drives our economy. We need to bring our cruise ships back, safely. Following proper protocols and recommendations from the CDC, we should take proper measures to do our part to accelerate what best drives our economy. Turning down the $2 million dollar donation from Norwegian Cruiseline was a mistake. We can’t afford to let our small businesses continue to struggle or fail. Many small businesses have barely survived, and others have collapsed. As a small business owner, I understand the struggles we have to keep our businesses afloat. When donations are present, we must take emergency measures, act quickly, and deliver relief to our local businesses. We can’t continue to “shop local” if there are no local shops. It’s time we put the needs of our small businesses first.

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BIPOC Businesses

We need to better support our black and indigenous people of color and their businesses, especially the women. Our system is fundamentally flawed. The past oppression of people of color has created an unfair disadvantage in our community. People of color have long been denied equal access to education, financial gain, and exposure to entrepreneurship. Together, we can put an end to this gap in racial equity. By shopping local at our BIPOC owned businesses, we help build racial equity and break that divide.

Furthermore, we need to reallocate a portion of our budgeting to support these businesses. I plan to introduce an ordinance providing a special grant for our BIPOC community to help level the playing field and help our minority entrepreneurs maintain successful businesses.

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Pro-Development

I am in full support of our businesses and new developers. I believe that we need to significantly reduce our zoning restrictions to allow more options for affordable housing and new business locations. Also, we need to expedite our permit processes so we can allow our businesses to expand and grow. I’ve been in touch with many business owners who are interested in expanding in order to help generate more revenue for our economy, but they have to wait a significantly long time for permit approvals. The growth of new and current businesses will create more jobs and put dollars back in the pockets of our businesses. I will do everything in my power to fast track these permit processes and relax zoning restrictions in order to allow for growth in our community.

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Childcare

Currently, we have a waitlist in Juneau for childcare. This is unacceptable. Parents should not have to wait and wait and wait to be able to find a sitter or daycare that has an opening. They have jobs. They have to work to put food on the table. They have bills to pay. The last thing parents should be worrying about is whether or not they have someone to take care of their children so they can go to work. This extra stress places an excess strain on one’s mental capacity.

As stated before, we should have accepted the 2 million dollar donation from the Norwegian Cruise Line and put it towards enhancing our system for childcare in Juneau. Now that that opportunity has passed, I will propose reallocating funds to establish a new daycare center which will eliminate waitlists, and create jobs. A new city-run daycare center will be a long-term process, so in the meantime, I will introduce a city program to encourage/train interested high school students to become trustworthy sitters in exchange for elective school credits. A program like this would cut down on our waitlist and provide discipline and life experience to our students.

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Increasing Covid Vaccinations

As of July 2021, only 62.9% of Juneauites are fully vaccinated and 66.3% have received at least 1 dose. Thus far, we have done a great job as a city making sure we received our vaccinations. However, we need to see this number significantly increase. With the possibility of new variants and hints of new outbreaks, we need to make sure we do everything we can to keep each other safe. The best possible way to do this is to encourage our friends, families, and coworkers to get vaccinated!

I strongly support incentive programs to encourage our people to get vaccinated. We need to get creative and come up with ways to inspire as many people as we can to get their vaccinations. The more people that receive a vaccination— the safer we are. I will fight and push more rewarding incentive programs to ensure, at minimum, 89% of our city is vaccinated.

Moreover, I do understand and respect people who choose not to get vaccinated due to medical conditions, or religious purposes. For those who cannot get vaccinated, I highly encourage you to wear a mask at all times while in public. Safety precautions saves lives. We must do our part to prevent another outbreak and keep our loved ones safe. Mask up!

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Juneau Access Road

I am in full support of building the road out of Juneau. It’s inevitable that it’s going to happen, so I am on board to have deeper discussions on how to move forward with this project. I understand how some Juneauites are a little apprehensive to take that path, so I would work closely with environmentalists to ensure we are developing in the best way possible without causing any harm. The construction of this road would provide hundreds of jobs for Alaskans. Moreover, it would provide a more affordable way in and out of Juneau. The working class deserve another option. Flights and ferries are quite expensive and not everyone has an extra $500 dollars to make a trip. Shipping freight and seafood would be much cheaper as well. Lastly, I believe the Juneau Access Road would ensure Juneau remains the capital of Alaska.

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Second Crossing

We need the second crossing in North Douglas to help accommodate more traffic and provide more routes. Currently, the Douglas Bridge is the only way to cross the Gastineau Channel which is a huge safety concern. Without a second crossing, those who live on Douglas would be trapped if anything happened to the current bridge. Recently a barge hit the bridge and we had to have a specialist evaluate for damages. If damages would have been severe, there is no alternative road to work or school. Also, the second crossing is extremely important for the future development, especially a new water port which would be very beneficial.

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Commercial Property Owners

I encourage every commercial property owner to file an appeal in response to the recent 50% increase in assessed land values. Citing “decades of neglect” and instantaneously pushing a 50% increase is not the answer. We need to acknowledge how volatile the commercial real estate market is in Juneau. Moreover, we are in the center of a pandemic. Commercial property owners are struggling as well, and this is a slap in the face to those commercial property owners who’ve worked hard to get where they are. I will advocate for our commercial property owners and lend my voice in every way possible to support their appeals.

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Paid for by Troy Wuyts-Smith for Assembly.
Contact
PO Box 240852, Douglas, Alaska 99824-0852