On Oct. 6, three candidates are vying to become the next mayor of Wasilla – Stu Graham, Glenda Ledford and Doug Holler.
Alaska Watchman sent a political questionnaire to all three candidates in order to get their views on pressing social issues such as police officers, abortion, homelessness, religious liberties and LGBTQ politics. Graham and Ledford, who are both current city council members, responded to our questions. Holler chose not to. Below are the responses.
In addition to national events, there have been both protests and supportive rallies here in the Mat-Valley this summer with regards to law enforcement. What are your thoughts about the state of law enforcement in Wasilla?
GRAHAM: Wasilla’s police department is right-sized, properly trained, and properly equipped for a city our size. A small-town police department offers a level of community familiarity often missing in larger departments and helps avoid confrontations often seen when rallies occur. Continuous training on interpersonal skills and equipment use will be carried forward in my term as mayor.
LEDFORD: Law enforcement in Wasilla is well respected and valued by our residents. The conversation around a few bad actors in the lower-48 ARE NOT where we are in Wasilla. It was the Wasilla residents that voted by the largest margin to add the additional 1 cent to build the Wasilla Police Department and if you look aback in history it was the Wasilla residents that voted to become a first class city with a law enforcement presence. This summer we did have a rally in Wasilla to support our blue, organized by our citizens – that speaks volumes for our law enforcement.
Anchorage’s Loussac Library has hosted Drag Queen Story Hour in which drag queen perform for children of all ages. Would you support such a program at the Wasilla Public Library?
GRAHAM: Public facilities should be made available for use by as many groups as possible, while being aware of the sensitivities of the community. Wasilla is a fairly conservative community and would speak out in masse against such a program if it was instituted without public input. Any organization with an interest in using a public facility should bring their request forward to the mayor who can then determine the proper path forward (which may include public hearing before the City Council).
LEDFORD: There has been no request from our community at this time for such programing. Also, I would question what the intent of the program was. If it was to incite a riot, then that is not in line with our mission and there for would not be supported with programing of this nature.
How should Wasilla manage the growing homeless population and panhandling?
GRAHAM: Homelessness is typically handled by property owners who can request help from the City in removing unauthorized persons from properties so the property owner can come into compliance with land use codes. Wasilla has a fair and enforceable panhandling ordinance which allows non-aggressive panhandling and the ordinance does not need to be changed.
LEDFORD: With panhandling it is important to consider that donations to reputable non-profits are more effective than handouts. Have you ever heard the statement: Real change – not spare change – is the best way to help out panhandlers? I’m curious why you think we have a growing homeless population in Wasilla. We have numerous reputable non-profits that can provide assistance with housing and homelessness. These partners work to make a real difference in people’s lives, and all provide opportunities to help by volunteering or contributing.
What is your position with regards to forming city partnerships with groups like Planned Parenthood, which promote abortion?
GRAHAM: Partnerships are the backbone of an effective city government. However, the city does not have health powers and would therefore will not be partnering with healthcare providing agencies.
LEDFORD: There has been no request for partnership from this organization at this time.
ALASKA WATCHMAN DIRECT TO YOUR INBOX
Would you support mandating lock downs and restricting houses of worship as a way to deal with COVID-19?
GRAHAM: Again, the city does not have health powers or the personnel to do the research necessary to make this type of decision. The city will follow the guidance of the state and I hope there is never a restriction which applies discriminately to houses of worship.
LEDFORD: At this time the CDC and DHSS, the State of Alaska, are the subject matter experts in this area with the recommendations.
Would you support laws that grant special protected legal status to people who personally identify as members of the LGBTQ community?
GRAHAM: All members of society should be treated equally and with respect for their way of life. State and federal legislation is the appropriate format for any such provisions to be enacted – local government needs to stick to the responsibility of providing essential services to its residents
LEDFORD: I would not support special treatment. As a human I support the rights of all humans. (Not sure how else you can phrase that without being right or wrong).
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