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Juneau’s local election is Oct. 5: Three anti-cruise ship initiatives could be on ballot

Juneau will hold its municipal election for mayor, two Assembly seats, and three seats on the local school board on Oct. 5.

In addition, three initiative petitions are circulating in the community that would put severe limits on cruise ships going forward:

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The cruise ship hours initiative would prohibit cruise ships with more than 250 passengers from being at the dock or at anchor in Gastineau Channel between the hours of 7 pm and 7 am. If a ship comes in after 1 pm and has to leave at 7 pm, ships are likely to just not to include Juneau on their itineraries, since they could not provide a great experience for guests.

This no-ship Saturdays initiative would prohibit cruise ships with more than 250 passengers from coming to Juneau on Saturdays. Because ships are going to other ports and must coordinate with those communities, they may just have to skip Juneau.

This initiative would prohibit cruise ships larger than 100,000 gross tonnage from being at dock or anchor in Juneau after Jan. 1, 2026. The Grand Princess, and Star Princess, for instance, have been coming to Juneau since the early 2000, and they would be banned. Ships such as the Discovery Princess, with 144,000 gross tonnage, would also have to bypass Juneau.

With these three anti-cruise ship petitions looming, other communities might pick up more cruise ships, as beneficiaries to Juneau’s reticence to be a port city.

The petitions’ organizer, Karla Hart, a critic of the cruise economy who leads a group called Cruise Control, has until June 3 to collect about 3,000 signatures on each of the petitions in order for them to appear on the Oct. 5 ballot. Her group has been relying on pop-up signature gathering events and person-to-person contact.

Cruise Control is also advocating for a vaccine passport and says the fact that 95 percent of passengers will be vaccinated is not good enough.

“The cruise industry is reluctant to follow CDC rules on vaccines. Passengers vaccinated at 95% is not enough as far as I’m concerned. A vaccine passport is a good idea. The huge crowds we experience when ships come to Juneau are the perfect set up for the spread of COVID-19,” the group wrote. It also wrote, “The cruise lines think they own us, and they do when our elected officials look the other way when they pollute, pay nothing in taxes, treat their crews like slaves, capture every dime possible onboard and leave us the crumbs. Our Assembly needs to regulate. Allowing the industry to self-regulate through the Tourism Best Management Practices is a joke. Ever tried to call with a complaint? It’s a black hole.”

Another group, Protect Juneau’s Future, is making the case that the initiatives would harm the Juneau economy. McHugh Pierre, president and CEO of Goldbelt, Inc., has spearheaded that group, and Pierre has been speaking around town about the dangers posed by the Cruise Control initiatives.

One local business owner said that the Cruise Control group is telling lies about the cruise ships, such as claiming they pollute the waters of Alaska, when in fact the ones that come to Alaska have the most stringent water systems in the world.

It’s already illegal to discharge sewage within three miles of any U.S. coastline. But the big ships have better wastewater treatment facilities than every one of the communities they visit in Alaska. The smaller ships that Cruise Control prefers have no such tertiary treatment.

A recent study of Ketchikan beaches, for example, showed high fecal coliform levels, even though no cruise ships have been there for 18 months. The pollution is coming from the community itself.

To ensure the ships are complying with environmental regulations, the Department of Environmental Conservation is planning to inspect every ship within the first few weeks they are in Alaska waters this season. This inspection program replaces the Ocean Rangers program that spent over $40 million since its inception, which had onboard inspectors from the State of Alaska. It was discontinued two years ago due to budget cuts. Instead, existing staff in the agency will be performing inspections.

Hart of Juneau’s Cruise Control said on KINY’s Action Line that she feels certain she can get the signatures, which would set up a major political battle for the Oct. 5 mail-in election, pitting government workers who have not missed a day of work against those Juneauites who work in the productive economy.

It would also mean the struggling productive economy workers would have to fight for their livelihoods during the late summer and fall, the exact same time they are simply trying to stay alive in a shortened cruise season.

The election will be mail-in only for the second year in a row. Juneau Assembly this spring voted to have the Anchorage Municipality’s Election Office manage a mail-in election to prevent people from participating in a normal in-person election.

Read: Southeast gears up for visitor season, but business owners see lots of risk to investing

Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.


  1. I remember when the greenies, filled with venom at our resource driven economy, spoke of tourism as being our salvation. Now the coastal towns will soon sound like everybody else: “Just mail us money. We really don’t want you here.”

  2. Cruise Control sounds like a bunch of twenty-something trail workers and baristas who have no idea where the money comes from to pay them.

  3. Knowing Juneau’s culture, I bet their mail in ballots will pass all three initiatives. Hahaha

  4. While COVID and Trudeau have severed the wrists of Alaska’s tourism economy, Karla Hart now wants to cut out the gills for the final bleed-out. Clearly, she, and anyone that signs these initiatives are not looking beyond themselves to fully understand what these dollars do for their neighbor and their community.
    If Juneau has experienced what Anchorage has during all of the lockdowns, then they have lost many small businesses. Those that remain are clinging by a thread to their life’s work; hoping to save what little is left of this season with hopes to build on the next. Not everyone in Juneau works for the government or is a poet. People’s livelihoods are at stake! Maybe it is time to get out the whiteboard to show how it all works.
    Happy to see McHugh Pierre spearheading opposition to this insanity.

  5. Take the seat of government out of that city and they’d be begging for all the cruise ships they could get! Time to move the capitol and make Juneau become an honest working city, not a hideout for crooked politicians and a parasite upon state revenues.

  6. Time to move the capital too. Juneau deserves neither the cruise industry or government. I’d imagine other grateful cities in Alaska would step forward.

  7. So Jen thinks she knows all about Juneau’s’ culture. But she obviously doesn’t know that two of our biggest employers and industries are Lead zinc silver and gold mines. She obviously doesn’t realize that we we have a vibrant fishing and fish processing industry and we of course have a normally booming tourism industry which incidentally is owned and operated by predominantly Alaskan if not Juneau families. And yes we have a lot of culture here too. World class performing arts. Juneau may be one of the most cosmopolitan little cities in existence. It appears that you may need to look that word up in the dictionary Jen. And think about getting educated about Juneau before you throw any more stones. Glass houses you know.

  8. Wow, so happy to see Juneau pulling back on tourism! A little bit is great, a lot is miserable for those who live there. The noise and excessive traffic has become unbearable. Many summer days the number of tourists outnumber the residents who live here. The noise volume from air traffic is often unbearable, even inside the house.

  9. Noise, from air traffic, unbearable? Having lived about 10’ from an east coast commuter train line, and beneath Lake Hood’s flight corridor, I can say one gets used to noise pretty easily.
    At least I’ve always been able to overlook noise and smile at an employed neighbor.

  10. Initiatives are not created in a vacuum, they are created when people are unhappy with the current situation.

    The cruise industry and the business people that support the cruise industry have failed to listen to the residents of Juneau.

    For all you folks that have never been to Juneau in the middle of the summer which seems to be most of the people commenting and the author of this piece you have no idea what it is like when there is 4 cruise ships in port in a day.

    Dave Hanna and MF post are right on.

    Before anyone bad mouths the initiative supporters because they do not support big business at any cost spent sometime in Juneau during the cruise season.

  11. This move will certainly boost the tourism industry that is already on the ropes – NOT. Cruise ships only deliver paying tourists for a short time each summer. The revenue employs thousands. Now we have the NIMBY crowd rearing their self-righteous heads and once again chipping away at an industry that provides jobs and income for the city and region. Keep it up, Juneau. Maybe cruises and tourists will stop coming. Most cities and states are desperate to diversify their economies, yet Juneau thinks that running off a segment of its industry is the solution to their woes. It’s no wonder people from outside the Capital City look at you as the Bezerkley of the North.

  12. Astounding. We desperately need to move our capital as this is what happens when those that are elected are not accessible by the majority of the population. Big government leftist hive. These people need a dose a reality that will help them understand where money comes from. The big government support system needs to be removed and put where more voters can be involved, present snd help keep it in check.

  13. Dave Hanna, I just checked and double checked and you are incorrect. The State of Alaska is the largest employer in Juneau and the largest private sector employer in Juneau is tourism.
    Tourism fuels not just employment but small businesses. Nothing like Juneau folks cutting their own throat.

  14. Apparently you haven’t been here in Juneau for a while. The flight paths were changed to fix that. We have a tourism management system that works fairly well when given a chance. I suggest folks like you worry about fixing the problems you have. There seem to be a few. But I don’t live there so it’s not my place to complain. Maybe think about helping Mr. Bronson turn things around if you have some spare time. It’s going to take a lot of effort to fix things. Not just complaining but pitching in. We need to clean up our own towns before we complain about our neighbors. We have our homeless problem here too so if we find things that work we should share them instead of sitting back and pointing fingers .You don’t build yourself up by tearing others down. We’re all Alaskans so let’s work together instead of apart.

  15. Oh, I see, Karla. You would rather ruin all the businesses in Juneau, not just the cruise lines, who are interdependent on said cruise lines, than to promote small businesses. You have NO knowledge, obviously of how the world works. Why the people of Juneau would listen to ANYTHING she has to say is beyond me. She must be another of those children trying to run/ruin our state!

  16. By Alaska economic standards Juneau is in the Catbirds seat. Here is a place with not one but two World Class Hard Rock Mines, producing both Silver and Gold while providing high paying jobs to hundreds if not thousands of locals. Juneau also boasts a large fishing fleet and has two fish processors adding value to Alaskan Seafood for export.
    In addition to the industries above Juneau has in years before Covid-19 been one of the most frequented ports of call for the Cruise Industry. This industry allows almost a million visitors a year to affordably enjoy one of the most beautiful places on the Planet. Sounds like a swell thing to me, sharing our State with folks who have Alaska on their bucket list.

    But now comes the disgruntled, the audibly harassed, the curmudgeonly resident who resents the change going on around them. They now seek through these propositions to selfishly limit, if not to end the ability of others from enjoying the natural beauty that belongs to us all. Furthermore these propositions would destroy the livelihood of their friends and neighbors. The proposal’s seem heavy handed and ill advised to me.

    Given the large number of Democrats residing in Juneau, I may be so bold as to ask them to recall the words of their most Honorable President, William J. Clinton. When faced with an act seeking to reform a government program , Slick Willy remarked “mend it, don’t end it”… I suggest that those pushing reforms meant to end tourism heed President Clintons advice and work with their neighbors to “mend” not ‘end”.

  17. How much do you want to bet that 90% of these cruise haters are themselves transplants into Juneau. Many of them probably arrived by………………
    Cruise Ship.

  18. Old adage:
    It is a luxury of a wealthy community to worry about the environment (substitute race, gender, any other leftist rallying cry).
    When you start putting the environment before maintaining that wealth, you will lose both.

  19. Juneau, Alaska’s newest ghost town.

    Not sure about all the legal in and outs of mandating a Vaccine passport but inquiring if a person has or has not gotten the Fauci Ouchie violates HIPPA in addition to a person’s right to choose.

    These propositions are not Alaska way or the frontier lifestyle. Is bring policy and things people dislike from where they came and changing our way of life

    Pack your bags and leave.

  20. It’s their city, their economy, let them do what they want.

    Has nothing to do with environmentalism, it’s about the people that actually live in a place wanting to enjoy the place they live.

    Some of you wouldn’t like it in your backyard either.

    Goes to show that they have so much state and lobbyist money in their little “cosmopolitan” paradise with its world class entertainment, that they can shrug off dollars from the private enterprise of tourism.

    Therein lies the real issue. The culture of Juneau is government, the more the merrier.

  21. @Dave Hanna – Well, I do know something about Juneau’s elistist culture, since I lived and worked there from ’84 – ’10. You’re either ignorant or a hypocrite in your touting of the mines as some fine example of Juneau’s “culture.” The same band of leftist miscreants that are trying to kill the cruise industry tried to kill both of those mines and forced multi-year court fights all the way to the USSC to ever get them opened. The forced the developer to abandon the attempt to re-open the A-J Mine, though that may have been a head fake by the developer to keep the miscreants busy while they worked to open the Kensington. They tried to destroy the flight-seeing industry a few years back. People associated with them constantly harass the whale-watchers. The same band of SJWs were instrumental in the head tax.

    Since the People’s Committee on Ideological Purity and the Citizens Against Virtually Everything have made the socialist workers’ paradise so unfriendly to both Republican governments and to private business, the government has been all but decapitated in Juneau. Pretty much everybody who is anybody in State government has moved their principal office to Anchorage and maintain just enough staff in JNU to answer the phone and take a message. If a director or commissioner moves his/her primary office to Anchorage, they don’t go alone. It might be interesting to take a look at how many State employees at Range 18 and above have AWA for a duty station compared to how many there were in, say, the Cowper Administration. When I was a director all of my staff except the clerical support were SR 18 and above. The only reason I kept my office in Juneau was because the commissioner maintained the primary office there and all the governors through Murkowski principally worked in Juneau. Had I moved the office to Anchorage, I could have saved the State hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in travel costs and given us all about a 25% raise with the lower cost of living in Anchorage.

    About the only part of the Capital left in Juneau is the star on the map and vestigial upper level staff in the Governor’s Office and Admin. Juneau has become more like a regional center for government and those SR 10 – 16 delivery of service employees and a few SR 18 or 20 supervisors are not going to pay for that culture you tout. Perserverance Theater relied heavily on oil company support, much of it from BP, which has now abandoned Alaska. Alaska oil has now become mostly the province of small producers and scavenger producers such as HillCorps; they’re not going to be handing out money to finance lefties who screech about how evil the oil industry is. No Republican officeholder is going to stay in Juneau any more than business demands. The elected and appointed official level of State government are the people who buy dinner in expensive restaurants and who pick up the tab for the table in the fashionable watering holes

    There is only a minimal private sector service and retail presence in Juneau. After Stallone’s closed in the late ’90s or so, you couldn’t buy quality men’s dress clothing in Juneau, and there was only limited shopping for women’s dress clothing. The upper levels of government travelled enough that they could shop in Seattle or Anchorage, but after 9-11 that became inconvenient and online shopping took over. In our last working years there, I was a director and my wife was a deputy director. We bought gas, groceries, building materials, and gardening supplies in Juneau. I don’t think either of us had a stitch of clothing that we bought in Juneau. We bought cars there but drove as hard a bargain as we could with the threat of buying Outside or in Anchorage. I tried to help keep the chandeleries in business, but I wouldn’t let them rob me; if I needed something for the boat, I showed them what I could get it for at West or BoatUS and tell them I’d give them that and 5-10%, take it or leave it. Sometimes they took it and sometimes they didn’t.

    Juneau has a death wish. It has run off most of the upper levels of State government, and the only salvation on that front is the unlikely election of a Democrat who’ll go back to the good old days of staffing the appointee ranks with Juneau lefties. Walker used Bruce Bothello as his hatchet man to fire pretty much everyone in State government who’d ever had a Republican thought, but even he didn’t bring all the runaway directors and commissioners back to the People’s Republic. The only thing that is keeping the star on the map in Juneau is the unionized public employee racket, the healthcare racket, and the education racket have made the State so broke that it would be political suicide to spend the money to buy the Egan Center or even the BP building for a Capitol and pay the remodelling costs and the relocation expenses for some subject matter experts that can’t readily be replaced. ‘Course, it might get really interesting if the MOA simply gave the almost unused Egan Center to the State for Legislative chambers and offices, the State did, after all pretty much pay for the Egan. Think about all that and see if you can keep that condescending sneer on your face.

  22. Yes mail in voting just like Anchorage is cheating.
    I’m with Jen, and Akvoter Juneau is another swamp place in Alaska.
    Now that Bronson has won the mayors race in Anchorage, Now lets get Anchorage cleaned up.

    As for you Juneau and Anchorage crazy Woke people. Maybe you should move your two city’s to some, Island far away like Attu are beyond. Then you can control your people masks for everyone and shots for everyone.
    More Madness

  23. I did not dispute that government is the largest employer. Perhaps you should read more carefully. Knee jerk reactions are rarely correct you know. Then look how many government employees are in Anchorage. It might be an eye opener for you.

  24. Typical Juneau…this level of infighting and reverse thinking is why McDonald’s couldn’t turn a buck downtown, Wal-Mart left and no new business lasts long.

    It’s a shame. I loved living there.

  25. Art,
    You really disappoint me with your personal attacks. I hate to say this but it seems to be typical of your neighborhood. If you thought my tone was condescending well so be it but I was merely pointing out that we had plenty of regular hard working Alaskans in our little town. And there are many of us who would gladly trade the capitol for a road out and another mine. As you say, you almost have it already. Good luck once you have it all. And God help our state. We wish you the best but it just might not work out the way folks think. What’s that saying, be careful what you wish for?.

    Hiding behind an alias is a coward’s way to conduct oneself. Also seems to be typical of your neighborhood. I stand by my response to Art. And brevity wins every time.

  27. Art is a bitter old man, it is always someone else’s fault in Art’s World.

    We all know from reading Art’s post that he considers himself to the expert in just about everything.

    If you do not agree with Art’s opinion then you are garbage.

    No one benefits from Art’s rants.

  28. @HarborGuy – Don’t worry, I don’t like arrogant lefties like you either. I do note however that you don’t seem to be capable of any refutation, just simple, simple-minded ad hominem.

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