by K.J. Lincoln
The City of Bethel will hold a Regular Election Tuesday, October 1st, 2019 for the purpose of electing candidates to the City Council and voting on Proposition 1. This year we have 6 candidates vying for 4 open seats on the Bethel City Council. Here is some information about who is running and why. Quyana for your responses.
Name: Cece Franko
Years in Bethel: 3 years
Occupation/business: Local Government Specialist for the State of Alaska
Do you currently (or have in the past) served on any committees, boards, or volunteer positions and if yes, what and where? Please include service on city council: Currently I am the Chair of the City of Bethel Finance Committee, additionally I am the Treasurer for Bethel Council on the Arts.
What are the reasons why you want to be on City Council? I think we need some change on council and our community could really benefit from some fresh ideas.
What is your position on Bethel’s alcohol situation? What do you support or not support? I believe we need to continue supporting social services that have higher needs because of the alcohol situation like Winter House, Sobering Center, TWC, Bethel Search and Rescue etc.
Do you have any hobbies or interests? I enjoy being outside, riding my bike, traveling and spending time with family/friends.
Name: Haley Hanson
Years in Bethel:All my life, except for when I lived in Fairbanks when I was going to college.
Occupation/business:High School Social Studies Teacher
Do you currently (or have in the past) served on any committees, boards, or volunteer positions and if yes, what and where?Please include service on city council: I was involved in various committees when I worked for the University of Alaska Fairbanks. I haven’t worked on any committees or boards here in Bethel, but I would like to become more involved.
What are the reasons why you want to be on City Council?I want to be on City Council because I want to help make decisions that influence the community in which I was raised, and continue to make my home. I want to be a role model for students in Bethel who may not have ever considered becoming leaders in their community. I want to use that platform to draw attention to issues that are affecting our youth, as well as work proactively to address issues like climate change, that are affecting Bethel now, and will continue to in the future.
What is your position on Bethel’s alcohol situation? What do you support or not support?I will support the community’s decision on the issue of alcohol. Regardless of the vote outcome, we still need to focus holistically on alcohol’s effects on Bethel and the surrounding village communities. We need to work on a plan that addresses several levels of the problem, for example increases to education, access to addiction recovery programs, and support for organizations who are dealing with alcohol’s effects on a daily basis, like the Tundra Women’s Coalition and EMS. I think City Council needs to be involved in Bethel’s Alcohol Task Force to emphasize the importance of the City’s role in leadership within the community. We have to come together as a community and decide to implement action, if we ever want anything to change.
Do you have any hobbies or interests?I try to read, cook, and hang out with my friends as much as possible. I also love playing volleyball and softball at Pinky’s Park in the summer. I also enjoy watching sports, traveling, and attending local community events.
Name: Alyssa Gustafson-Leary
Years in Bethel: December will be 7 years
Occupation/business: I work as an Environmental Health Officer for the YKHC Office of Environmental Health & Engineering. I also have a small side business.
Do you currently (or have in the past) served on any committees, boards, or volunteer positions and if yes, what and where? Please include service on city council: I am the Vice-Chair of the City of Bethel Public Works Committee. I also volunteer with the Bethel Housing Coalition, Kuskokwim 300, Bethel Friends of Canines, Covenant Church Friday Night Supper Club, Bethel Half Marathon and YKHC Diabetes Zombie Run (as a zombie).
What are the reasons why you want to be on City Council?
There are so many reasons that I love Bethel, and there are also a variety of reasons people complain about Bethel. I am the kind of person that seeks logical solutions to problems. I want to use my time and energy to contribute to our local government moving forward with projects aimed at the betterment of this community, while keeping the budget in mind. I am not a politician. I am a concerned member of this community looking to step up and make progress, rather than continuing to criticize from the outside. I look forward to continuing to hear from community members about any concerns or ideas for future projects.
What is your position on Bethel’s alcohol situation? What do you support or not support? The alcohol situation is complex. It’s very obvious to most residents that when we allow the legal sale of hard liquor in Bethel, there is an increase on the demand for the various emergency services to respond. And the need for increased emergency services spills over to the surrounding villages. We have to find a balance.
Proposition 1 is a good try at a compromise. I hope you will join me to VOTE YES on Proposition 1 to return to Local Option status, prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages except through a restaurant or eating place (importation and possession are still allowed, with reasonable monthly limits on importation). We can still collect some alcohol tax while decreasing the strain on our police, fire, EMT and search/rescue folks. I agree that we all make our own choices, and we all have a choice to make on Proposition 1.
Do you have any hobbies or interests? I love being able to get outside any time of the year; berry-picking, moose hunting, bird hunting, fishing, boating, gardening, biking around the neighborhood with my dog Petey, snow machining, going upriver to Napaimute as much as possible.
Name: Mark Springer
Years in Bethel: 20
Occupation/business: ONC NALEMP Coordinator
Do you currently (or have in the past) served on any committees, boards, or volunteer positions and if yes, what and where? Please include service on city council: I have several terms on the Bethel City Council. Prior to that I served as Chairman of the Public Safety and Transportation Committee.
What are the reasons why you want to be on City Council?
I believe public service is a responsibility for every citizen, and I enjoy it. Being on the City Council allows me to work in a collaborative fashion to address issues our community faces, seeking solutions that will help to make Bethel a better place for our children and grandchildren.
What is your position on Bethel’s alcohol situation? What do you support or not support?
I have never been a fan of alcohol sale in Bethel. I originally supported the Alcohol Delivery Point many years ago. Liquor stores, while bringing significant revenue to the City nearly cost as much in public service demand as they bring in. That’s not exactly a good deal.
Do you have any hobbies or interests? Amateur Radio, paracording, politics.
Name: R. Thor Williams
Years in Bethel: I have lived and raised my family in Bethel for 25yrs.
Occupation/business: I’m working for the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation as a Case Manager.
Do you currently (or have in the past) served on any committees, boards, or volunteer positions and if yes, what and where? Please include service on city council: The biggest honor that I have as a community member in Bethel is helping my fellow community members live a healthier and safer life in Bethel. In my volunteer work for our community, I have been a wrestling coach for the Bethel Freestyle Wrestling Cub and been a Firefighter for Bethel Fire Dept. for past eleven years. I also have been a volunteer Councilmember for the City of Bethel for close to 12 years and worked with most of the city committee/commissions in the past.
What are the reasons why you want to be on City Council? As a council member, I would like to continue to work on issues and concerns that our community deals with on a daily basis like high cost of water and sewer services and healthy activities for our community. “Bethel is the best place to live and raise our families.”
What is your position on Bethel’s alcohol situation? What do you support or not support? My position on alcohol within our community is that it’s up to the voters to make the decision on how we want to have alcohol distributed within our community. As a city council member, I will follow the direction of the voters. If the voters wants to continue to have sales of alcohol in our community then I would work hard to provide the services within our community to have best standards of living. If the voter wants to have a damp community, then we will have to work together on stopping bootlegging issues and not having an alcohol delivery site that is run by the City of Bethel.
Do you have any hobbies or interests? My grandchild who is the apple of his grandmother and grandfather’s eye is our family’s biggest interest. And to continue teaching and helping young wrestlers to become the best they can be on the mat. I would like to start riding motorcycle with my son and future sons-in-law in the near future.
We apologize that we aren’t able to provide any responses from City Council Candidate Fritz Charles at this time.