David Brena

Real Estate Developer

AGE: 64:
EDUCATION: BSBA – Real Estate & Construction Management, MBA-Finance, MAI Designated Appraiser (Retired).
YEARS IN SKAGWAY: Most of my life. My family came here in the mid-1940s.
PUBLIC OFFICES HELD: Planning and Zoning Committee
INTERESTS, HOBBIES (list 3 only): Fishing, Playing Pool and Hiking.

1. What helpful qualities would you bring to the assembly table?

In my opinion, this election and the next in 2017 are the most important elections in Skagway’s future. My primary reason for running for assembly is to try to resolve the issues surrounding the waterfront. Namely to find a way forward for the clean-up to occur, to determine all viable options for the long term operation of our port and to get the floating dock(s) constructed before we hamstring our base industry.

Ten months ago, the citizens overwhelmingly rejected the WP&YR lease. As I see it there were several main reasons for this vote. First, the process was not transparent, second an estimate of appropriate market rent was never developed, third the lack of waterfront control is an issue (we can’t seem to facilitate the clean-up), fourth the term was too long and the tenancy was not without issues (including environmental contamination and poor maintenance of the Ore Dock). Many people also think a monopoly is not appropriate and that the Municipality should control their docks directly or through a Port Authority.

Ten months after the vote, most of these issues remain unresolved.

In support of my helpful qualities, I worked for seven years as a contract/labor negotiator for the United Transportation Union and negotiated three contracts with the White Pass & Yukon Railroad. I must say that during that entire time, we never got everything we asked for. I also have 30 years’ experience in appraising and consulting on complex commercial properties including consulting directly on Icy Strait Point for Huna Totem.

2. If the $6 million bond for the Senior Center passes, this will bring the current borough bonds to roughly $30 million. Do you think there is a better way to raise funds for municipal projects other than bonds?

I do think we tend to overdesign projects and end up with much higher costs as a result. I am not sure the Senior Center should be comingled with senior housing and I am not sure the Municipality should be in the housing rental business. For cooperative development partnerships for housing there is a very competitive program called Section 42 Housing. This type of development is a partnership usually between the Municipality, a developer and a bank. Primary funding for this type of development occurs through the issuance of tax credits which are then sold.

3.  A new White Pass & Yukon Route Tidelands Lease has been an ongoing venture between the railway and the Municipality of Skagway for the last several years. It has also been a point of contention at the assembly table and in the community. How do you see conversations with White Pass continuing? Do you agree with a third party assessment? Would you entertain the idea of putting waterfront management out to bid?

First, all options for the waterfront should be analyzed. Determining the appropriate market rent through an appraisal is essential. The existing assessment is inadequate and undervalued. Other options should be analyzed as well. Should the Municipality operate its waterfront directly or through a Port Authority? How are we going to facilitate the clean up? How and where are we going to development the floating docks necessary to remain competitive? Unless the Assembly tackles these questions directly we are never going to have an optimal solution.

4. There are three candidates and two open seats. Do you think the candidate who receives the third most votes should be appointed to Assemblyman Dan Henry’s seat, when he goes to prison and gives up his seat?

Yes, I do think that the third high vote should be appointed. In this very important time of issues regarding the waterfront, the Mayor, a White Pass and Yukon manager should not be appointing Dan Henry’s successor.

5.  What current and future issues or projects can community members expect you to be the most passionate about if you are elected to the assembly?

I am most passionate about resolving the waterfront issues. I think there is an inherent conflict of interest between the White Pass & Yukon employees who are serving on the Assembly and the White Pass & Yukon lease. Until such time as the waterfront issues are resolved, we the citizens would be better served by electing Assembly members without this conflict.

Orion Hanson

General Contractor

AGE: 38
EDUCATION: B.A. Political Science: University of Wisconsin-Madison ‘00
YEARS IN SKAGWAY: Returned to Skagway 5 years ago. I also lived here as a child
PUBLIC OFFICES HELD: Planning and Zoning Chairman, Trustee of F.O.E. #25
INTERESTS, HOBBIES (list 3 only): Kayaking, Softball, crafts using wood

1. What helpful qualities would you bring to the assembly table?

I strive to be a good listener and open-minded in my daily civic, business and social interactions with other people. I’m diligent and try to live up to the motto; “do what you say and say what you do”.  I’ve attended dozens of assembly meetings over the last 5 years as a citizen, thus I have a base level understanding of most of the issues that currently confront the assembly. As a contractor I would bring expertise to the table for analyzing future municipal projects.

2. If the $6 million bond for the Senior Center passes, this will bring the current borough bonds to roughly $30 million. Do you think there is a better way to raise funds for municipal projects other than bonds?

I would consider raising the mill rate in all zones and consider a 1% sales tax to balance the budget if needed. I’ve also heard many of the Skagway elders stress fiscal conservatism. I value that wisdom.

3. A new White Pass & Yukon Route Tidelands Lease has been an ongoing venture between the railway and the Municipality of Skagway for the last several years. It has also been a point of contention at the assembly table and in the community. How do you see conversations with White Pass continuing? Do you agree with a third party assessment? Would you entertain the idea of putting waterfront management out to bid?

I support getting an accurate assessment from an independent party for the value of the waterfront, as Mr. Finlayson suggested in a recent assembly meeting. I felt the information presented to the public for the last Tideland Lease was one-sided and did not provide a comprehensive comparison of the pros and cons. Cleaning up contamination in the harbor should be a priority for discussions of a future Tidelands Lease with White Pass. I would look to find common ground with White Pass before pursuing other options.

4. There are three candidates and two open seats. Do you think the candidate who receives the third most votes should be appointed to Assemblyman Dan Henry’s seat, when he goes to prison and gives up his seat?

No. I wish 3 seats were on the ballot for the public to vote on, but that is not happening in this election. There should not be manipulation of the public process for a one-time occurrence.  I had a much bigger issue 4 years ago when the newly elected mayor appointed his own replacement to the assembly immediately following an election. I strongly feel that aspect of our Municipal Code should be changed to better our democracy. Mr. Henry’s situation is regrettable on many levels, but I don’t support altering the procession of the assembly based on a single circumstance.

5. What current and future issues or projects can community members expect you to be the most passionate about if you are elected to the assembly?

The city needs to sell more land. There is very little opportunity for people to buy into Skagway, and we lose potential year-round residents because there isn’t the availability for people to buy property and put down roots. I’d advocate developing a new subdivision with modestly sized plots that are affordable to middle income people.  Skagway has tremendous resources and booming wealth in the summer, and one of the highest un-employment rates in the state in the winter. We can do a better job of diversifying our economy beyond May, June, July, August and September. I am also very concerned about our State’s finances, and will be a voice of moderation until there is a better understanding of Alaska’s budget crisis. Thank you for voting in municipal and national elections this fall.

Timothy D. Cochran

Plant Manager – Petro Marine Services

AGE: 54
EDUCATION: High School/Cochise College/Military NCO Academy
YEARS IN SKAGWAY: 30
PUBLIC OFFICES HELD: Assemblyman, Planning and Zoning Commissioner, Ports & Harbor Committee, HEW Chair, School Liaison, Clinic Liaison, Port Commission Liaison
INTERESTS, HOBBIES (list 3 only): Reading, Running & Family

1. What helpful qualities would you bring to the assembly table?

30+ years management experience enables me to bring a logical common-sense approach to the Assembly on the many issues that our community is faced with.

2. If the $6 million bond for the Senior Center passes, this will bring the current borough bonds to roughly $30 million. Do you think there is a better way to raise funds for municipal projects other than bonds?

Currently, we are receiving more return on our fund balances than we are paying on bonding. However, we are at a point where our revenue stream is not able to withstand more debt at its current level. That is why we are suggesting that the bond for the Senior Center be paid with a property tax increase of 1.4mils. We currently have a mil rate of 7mils (seven tenths of one percent of property value).

3. A new White Pass & Yukon Route Tidelands Lease has been an ongoing venture between the railway and the Municipality of Skagway for the last several years. It has also been a point of contention at the assembly table and in the community. How do you see conversations with White Pass continuing? Do you agree with a third party assessment? Would you entertain the idea of putting waterfront management out to bid?

I do agree with a third party assessment. That is why we are seeking a professional marine consultant to help us incorporate a plan for viable and efficient port. This third party could also be utilized to help facilitate negotiations with White Pass and other stakeholders on the waterfront. As far as putting waterfront management out to bid depends on whether we can come up with some sort of arrangement with White Pass or not and White Pass would be a bidder if an agreement isn’t reached. We should entertain serious discussion about a Port Authority and possible partnerships with the cruise ship companies as well.

4. There are three candidates and two open seats. Do you think the candidate who receives the third most votes should be appointed to Assemblyman Dan Henry’s seat, when he goes to prison and gives up his seat?

I would have to say that would depend on how the vote goes and what the assembly decides as a whole.

5. What current and future issues or projects can community members expect you to be the most passionate about if you are elected to the assembly?

I think we have our work cut out for us on the waterfront. We definitely need to ensure the ore basin is cleaned up and hopefully we can accommodate a more diverse and active port. We need to tackle the housing shortage issue as well as get with our congressional delegation and get another lane open at our port of entry.