Sam Moore, having been just re-elected as President of the North Star Community Council, is running for the Anchorage Assembly in the special election in West Anchorage. His two main opponents are Austin Quinn- Davidson and Nikki Rose. When asked about why he wanted to run for Assembly, he told me that he does not view the Assembly as a stepping stone for higher political office. Apparently, Moore has a dying passion for municipal law and codes, and is eager to work on the Assembly to get Anchorage on, in his opinion, the right track.
Our interview was fairly straightforward. He said that crime was the first and foremost issue that people are concerned with in his district. To him, crime has not been fully addressed by the Assembly, as Anchorage is still rated as a highly dangerous city. Moreover, he recognizes that people are in fear of property crimes, as they are the most frequent crime committed by drug users and addicts.
Moore believes that one of most important things the Mayor’s office could do is better allocate police officers and their resources. “The police officers are hired, now we need to put them in the right place.” Moore observed that while the Mayor has kept his promise to hire new officers at an impressive rate, they are not given the resources they need to do their job. He does not remember the last time a police car went through his neighborhood, giving the residents a sense of safety, and he feels this is due to the police force being overworked and poorly assigned.
One way to solve this issue is to, you know, obtain more resources. To do this, Moore told me that he felt the Assembly has become complacent in the day to day operations. He felt that a “fly-in” to Juneau would be helpful. Since Juneau is so isolated, many times lawmakers are swayed based upon those who call in and are able to fly down and talk to them. By having the Assembly do this, it would show that they are being proactive for the residents of Anchorage in trying to have the state increase their role in providing safety for Alaska’s most populated area.
Regarding Anchorage’s drug and mental illness problems, Moore believes that increasing access to those centers and networks are important, however by this point he feels many of the people who WANT help have gone out and received it. Whereas crime in Anchorage, and a high rate of homelessness (often interconnected), are being caused by people who do not want help. Moore believes the situation is not an easy one, and definitely not one that can be answered quickly.
Moore is an accountant by education and trade. When I asked him about what he wanted to do with the economy, he answered confidently that Alaska is a resource based economy, and there is no getting around that. While a prayer for high oil prices is nice, the reality is that Alaska’s economy is truly centered around Anchorage’s economy, which has taken a rough hit over the last 6 years.
In order to grow Anchorage’s economy, he believes the city needs to begin a process of commercial redevelopment and unjamming ongoing projects, beginning in West Anchorage. The assembly is at a critical point where they can begin thinking long term, which is what Moore wants to do. He said that in order to encourage property owners in Anchorage that are sitting on entire lots and not doing anything with them, he wants to provide them tax incentives, most likely in the form of tax abatement. This would incentivize land owners to do work on the properties they own around Anchorage and help diversify the economy. Simply put, Anchorage cannot rely on just restaurants and retail stores to provide the jobs needed in the city. Part of Moore’s plan is to also look into zoning laws that some have mentioned as impractical and harmful to development.
Moore’s campaign slogan “Demand Moore” is in reference to the lack of municipal government accountability, especially in the budget. Moore told me repeatedly that the city of Anchorage is currently spending money in the wrong places. While budget cuts are an option, Moore would rather examine the whole budget, and then propose ways to make it more effective and transparent. This would show Anchorage taxpayers exactly what is being spent, and on what. The natural result of this would be a decrease in spending in certain areas, and perhaps a spending increase in others.
When it comes to taxes, here is where Moore thinks:
● Sales Tax = Against
● Vice tax increases (i.e tobacco and alcohol products) = Against
● Gas Tax = “It’s a regressive tax”
Overall, Moore has positioned himself as the candidate who wants to bring fiscal security to the city, while also ensuring that a considerable amount of government accountability is reached. He has described himself on Facebook as a Progressive Republican, telling me that he is fiscally conservative, and “laissez-faire” on social issues. Moore is hoping that enough people are aware of the election and vote before, or on August 7th.
Chaz is a born and raised Alaskan. He recently graduated from the University of Alaska Anchorage with a B.A. in both Political Science and History. He has two cats and enjoys kayaking in the summer.