Interior Taxpayers’ Association hosts forum for 2023 Fairbanks candidates

Published: Sep. 7, 2023 at 9:53 AM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Interior Taxpayers’ Association (ITA) hosted candidates for Fairbanks City Council and Fairbanks North Star Borough (FNSB) Assembly seats in a forum for the 2023 municipal elections.

University Baptist Church saw members of the Fairbanks community gather on Tuesday, September 5 to hear from these prospective lawmakers.

The event was moderated by State Representative Will Stapp and was open to the public.

In the hot seat, candidates were asked questions from the audience that were not pre-prepared. Topics ranged from ranked choice voting to the city’s tax cap.

Candidates described their priorities in office, with Sean MacDonald, challenger for Fairbanks City Council Seat E, saying, “I think that the city government itself can do more to make sure that it’s easier and safer for people to walk around town, and also I think that the city government can do a better job of making sure that construction projects don’t debilitate whatever businesses that are nearby or in front of it.”

Lonny Marney, the Incumbent for the same Fairbanks City Council seat, said, “I think Fairbanks is a great town. I know our crime levels are rising. Our drug abuse is rising. We have problems with alcoholism. That probably goes back to the homeless issue.”

Meanwhile, John Ringstad, Incumbent for Fairbanks City Council Seat F, explained, “Local government priorities have to be public safety and taking care of our streets, plowing our snow, fixing our potholes, our transportation systems.” He added, “Our fire department, our police department and our dispatch office are all seriously understaffed.”

According to ITA Secretary Ann Roberts, this event has been happening for around 45 years.

It is designed for members to familiarize themselves with those running before going out to vote. “We wanted to meet candidates and find out who we could endorse, so we had to have them come and talk so we could ask questions and so on,” said Roberts.

For FNSB Assembly, incumbents Jimi Cash and Tammie Wilson participated in the forum, as did candidate Aaron Gibson.

Multiple candidates were not present at the event: Shoshana Kun for City Council, and Nick LaJiness, Liz Reeves-Ramos and Scott Crass for borough assembly.