Getting involved in local politics

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 - 19:00

I have found it difficult to get involved in local politics since my husband joined the Army.

I remember the first election after Chase went to basic training. It was a mayoral election. There were pros to each candidate, and there were a lot of cons to each candidate.

As I tried to decide which one to vote for, it occurred to me that I would not even be around for inauguration. I know that elections have consequences and it didn’t seem right to vote for someone else’s consequences. So, I stayed home that year.

Since then, I’ve voted on the big stuff like president. However, unless the issue is a big deal to me, I’ve left referendums, school board elections and other local matters to the people who will have to live with them.

Living in Alaska, things have been different. For the first time in our married life, my husband and I feel like we have found our home.

The Army may take us elsewhere, but we plan on coming back as soon as we can. Knowing that I’ll be back, I have been working hard to research the candidates and issues on all the ballots and voted in every election I could since arriving here. I may miss a few years, but I have an interest in the future of this community.

Last week, I had the opportunity to take my new community involvement a step further. I saw a public invitation to attend one of the mayor’s Community Dialogue on City Revenues and Property Tax Relief.

As a property owner, I find this an interesting discussion. I will start off saying that having lived in many other places, I am not going to complain about property taxes here. With no state or local income tax or sales tax, I am okay with my property tax bill. However, I also wouldn’t mind lowering that bill, either.

With the bill for the city going directly to the property owners, I do wonder if renters realize that they are also indirectly footing the bill. I wonder this particularly when every bond proposed since I’ve lived here has passed.

Do the voters realize that rents are going to go higher along with the prices of goods and services as the tax bill on buildings go up? Or do they think that the bill will go only to the wealthy property owners?

I wonder if the bonds would be passed so readily if the bonds were to be paid off with a sales tax instead of a property tax?

Going to the event was fun. I got to meet new people, from seniors who actually grew up in Alaska to high school students whose participation was encouraged by a teacher, to another Eagle River resident.

I got to hear what other Anchorage citizens think about the issue. The ideas to lower property taxes ran the gamut: sales taxes with many exclusions and exceptions, a very low sales tax on everything and everyone, higher liquor and cigarette taxes, legalization of marijuana so the city could “tax the crap out of it.”

There was one idea that was not covered in the scope of the discussion. One that I believe most everyone in the room would get behind. The tax burden would be less if we simply spent less.


Eagle River’s Lori Spears is the wife of a captain in the U.S. Army.

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