Tom Boutin: A few words in favor of Chris Tuck for Anchorage’s next mayor

34
1416

By TOM BOUTIN

If I lived in Anchorage I would be knocking on doors to promote Chris Tuck for mayor. I cannot recall ever voting for a Democrat but I would vote for him without reservation.

While I don’t agree with those who say the state is a victim of “Dunleakage economics,” I do believe that our state economy is in fact both leaking dollars and consuming far more than it’s producing, spending one-time reserves – including irreplaceable oil – to meet ongoing needs.  

So the mayor of our largest city needs a fluency in economic common sense now foreign to state government and absent in Anchorage government (also absent in Juneau muni government by the way). 

As a legislator, Chris Tuck had very superior public finance experience, and he originated ideas about money and banking that could have very much helped the state (and still can), but the Alaska Legislature is not always open to new ideas even when those ideas have been used successfully in other states.

Here we are in 2024, and I don’t know how much could be expected to come from state government to fix our weak economy, but I know Chris Tuck very well and anticipate his repairs to the municipal economy will be inspirational to and copied by the rest of the state.   

I moved to Alaska from New Hampshire 50 years ago last year, and the economy I found here was one of hard work and innovation. My mother still has the letters I sent back in which I said that most Alaskans were working two high-paying jobs, had three business schemes, and had already accumulated enough reserves to pay cash for a farm or business.  

Alaska and New Hampshire are the only two states that have neither a sales tax nor an income tax, so I think comparisons are useful. About a year ago, using numbers being frequently mentioned in the national press, I did an admittedly cursory calculation revealing that a working-age male in Alaska was 130 percent more likely to be on SNAP than his counterpart in New Hampshire.

It doesn’t surprise me that through much of 2023 the Alaska media talked about the Dunleavy administration’s inability to keep up with new SNAP applications at the very same time the same media regularly ran stories about the private sector’s inability to fill vacant positions. (Don’t forget that when economists report the unemployment rate they’re only reporting about the people actively looking for work.)   

We’ve somehow eroded our work ethic by spending our oil money. One day an historian will write that in the Alaska petroleum era we focused on food stamps over factories.  I don’t believe for a minute that our economic plight is due to the Jones Act, the high cost of energy, low education spending, courts delaying resource development, or too few state taxes.   Government has not only owned all the land but now pays for almost all health care, more than half of all food sold at retail, and perhaps most family-wage jobs.    

A dominant government has been unable to overlook people who believe an economy can only be found in handouts.  I know one person working in law enforcement who says that for some population cohorts food stamps and fentanyl seem to be correlated. Recently we split in two the state department that hands out food stamp credit cards, and we touted that as progress. We’ve spent decades and at least hundreds of millions of dollars tilting at windmills such as promoting a North Slope gas line without once asking the owners of North Slope gas – people actually engaged in that industry – why they haven’t built a gas line. 

We doubled our population, with a state government work force grown to meet it, while our oil production dropped by 80 percent; and we regularly (ballot measures in 2014 and 2020, and annual legislation) take a run at increasing taxes on petroleum leases agreed and inked long ago, to then curse the oil giants for not investing more here.   Attorneys have run for office, and once elected we have let them renege on our word. 

Chris Tuck is not an attorney, and he’s a man of his word. He is the man to run Alaska’s largest city in this time of decadence and discord. Propose something stupid to him and he will tell you it’s a stupid idea even if you flew to Alaska on your own jet.

When a governmentally owned enterprise is essential to the economy and that government fails to spend enterprise revenues at least equal to depreciation then taxpayers are being hoodwinked.  That is a root cause of the Anchorage port debacle. Four or five years ago, when the late Ben Stevens was a state executive chief of staff, he ordered me to attend an Anchorage Assembly meeting and tell them they were liars regarding an aspect of port finances. When I had done that, and thanked the Assembly for letting me do it, Mark Begich, former Anchorage Mayor and U.S. senator, thanked me, shook my hand and told me someone had to set the Assembly straight.  

We still have good Alaskans around, still can bring Alaska back; but we have to elect real Alaskans, which is why I write this today.  I’ve been a registered Republican for decades but political parties have nothing to do with the scarcity of leadership sometimes found in government. 

My expectation is that during his first several weeks as mayor, Chris Tuck will assemble the cruise ship companies and the governor to form a successful revenue bond port financing secured by a portion of cruise passenger head tax income, satisfactory to the cruise line association for rebuilding the port. Because of Juneau City/Borough misspending of head tax income, found by federal courts in summary judgement to have broken commerce laws going back well into the 19th century, the cruise line association can veto any spending of that head tax. But the income remains so large that each year Juneau solicits spending ideas for the money (almost 1.7 million passengers to Juneau last year). This is the municipality that gave a grant of taxpayers’ money to “teach drag queen lessons,”  spent what the cruise line association told me was $17 million of head tax income on a brass whale, and is now planning to spend $20 million on a ski area tram it imported from Europe. 

All Alaskans would be better served by spending on the Anchorage port, and Mayor Chris Tuck will bring intelligence to Anchorage city government that Juneau taxpayers will envy. He can and likely will quickly move the port discussions beyond simply naming the port!

Chris Tuck is an honest broker in the organized labor component of our economy, and having that economic constituency at the table when decisions are made is necessary – or else nothing moves, which is what too often happens in Anchorage.   He is respected, and Anchorage voters deserve no less. I’ve never been a member of a labor union but I fully accept the role private sector unions play in ensuring family wage jobs for highly skilled labor.  Alaska cannot return to the superior economy we once had if we leave those family wage jobs behind.

While I may have logged timber in every one of New Hampshire’s 10 counties before relocating to Alaska, I was born and raised in the part of New Hampshire where Quebec, Vermont, and Maine all meet, gaining exposure to several cultures and industries. Two towns, with a combined population of 16,000 shared a pulp and paper mill employing 2,500 in the mill and 1,000 in the woods, and that mill was owned by a Sicilian, then known in the financial press as God’s Banker. He garroted himself while incarcerated in an Italian prison, but not before he visited my high school, accompanied by a priest wearing a tall red hat, who was his interpreter.  (Joking about doing the garroting himself, of course.) It was the beginning days of the Vietnam War, and in his motivational message God’s Banker told us that Russian communist boys were tougher than we were and studied harder.  I wasn’t Catholic but I believed him.

New Hampshire was a complicated little place back then. My father, a Live Free or Die Republican and World War II veteran, who voted for General LeMay to be vice president, was an enforcer for the Teamsters Union for about 35 years. He drove Mack tractors from the end of the road system north of Quebec City, south to Wilmington, Del., hauling pulp and paper.  When I was 10 years old, I saw one of the M1 Garands I now own used in a labor action when a nonunion trucking outfit had found a way to go around the trucking rights into Quebec. The first time I saw my father knock a man down I was six years old, and the fellow was a relative of the trucking company’s owner – mouthing off during a labor action. The owners were Italians, and the drivers were Frenchmen.   

It was a few years later that I understood why my father had to knock the man down: he was a man with the impressive and unusual ability to double-deck 55 gallon oil drums, and people at the nearby laundry and the nearby factory would sometimes walk over during their breaks to watch him do it. So he was a man who had to go down at the first few punches, or else he would be a real handful.   

The labor unions, that huge pulp and paper mill complex, the Catholic Church, and all the other elements toiled together to produce a very good economy and a very high standard of living even with only one income being the norm in almost all families. Except for one state trooper for both towns, and an elected county sheriff I could not have told anyone where to find any government official.   

As mentioned, Alaska had an even more impressive economy and productive workforce than NH did, but now we don’t.   Anchorage, and the entire state of Alaska need to return to the productive economy we once had; and we need to do it despite government, its 37.5 hour workweek, and its vast tracts of locked-up land, food stamps and fentanyl.   Chris Tuck is the right man to be mayor of this one key city, and he is arriving to the position none too soon.

Please believe me when I say I can tell that progress will be made once Chris Tuck becomes mayor, and I really haven’t seen much progress in Anchorage for some time. During the past several years I have offered to bet many Anchorage business people that the Anchorage mid-town has more Class A and Class B office and retail space that has been vacant for 5 years or longer than Juneau has Class A & B space, vacant and occupied, and every single person has responded that I would win that bet; yet how often have you heard the current mayor and assembly, or any economic development nonprofit in Anchorage address that?  

Forgive me for being so blunt but rhetoric and churning of the current mayor, of most of the assembly Anchorage has today and has recently had, plus the economic ideas espoused by Bill Popp amount to nothing more than one bad joke on taxpayers. Thank you for your time, and thanks to MustReadAlaska for producing this dispatch.

Tom Boutin is a Juneau resident who has served as chief of staff for the Alaska State Bond Committee, the Alaska State Pension Investment Board and the Alaska Retirement Management Board. He also was the CEO of the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, a state-owned bank, appointed by Gov. Mike Dunleavy. In addition, he worked for many years in the forest products industry.

34 COMMENTS

  1. Yet another example of why Anchorage is a dying, dystopian, dysfunctional city.

    Chris Tuck can been seen as a viable alternative to the mayoral office.

    I’ll take the small scale incompetence of Juneau over the industrial strength failures of Anchorage.

  2. I’m not crazy about Bronson. A promising start got lost in mismanagement and poor attempts to cover it up.

    But considering the makeup of the Politburo running Anchorage, Reagan would have been ineffective.

    If anyone thinks Tuck will be better at the job than the incumbent, they must either believe in the Easter Bunny or be confident Tuck will do as told.

    Either way, not a ringing endorsement.

  3. Charming stories about NH. But exactly how is Chris Tuck going to reign in the dysfunctional cronies on the Assembly? I’m not sure the equivalent of George Washington could prevail and bring truth to the conversations there. But I’m fairly certain no one of that quality exists considering the Assembly and ASD fight to indoctrinate our children with such nonsense. Chris Tuck will have my attention when he starts picking off the criminals that comprise the Assembly and permanently bans them from public service. Good luck.

  4. This rambling screed is barely readable. I’d rather slide down a 30-foot cheese grater, rolled on a beach of salt and tossed into a pool of alcohol than vote for Chris Tuck.

  5. Alaska is so overpopulated with (voting) government workers that any change is virtually impossible unless and until the “spigot” is turned down.

  6. Thank you, but I am not overeager to take any economic advice from the former head of the vast financial black hole that is and has been the AIDEA.

  7. Tom… you lost me at “If I lived in Anchorage…” You don’t live here, so please don’t try and tell me how I should vote. In fact your bio states that you live in the “cess-pool” of Juneau, sooo… you might be better served in trying to clean-up your own back yard before worrying about other’s…

  8. I believe the current assembly majority would love to see Chris elected. likewise, the ASD.

  9. Chris Tuck is the most likeable person you’ll ever meet. I liked him instantly when we met in 1989 and we became fast friends. I could tell you many stories of the shenanigans Chris and I got into – but I won’t.

    Chris Tuck’s passionate idealism is infectious. His smile, laugh, and caring are genuine. He will give you the shirt off his own back.

    If Anchorage wants a likeable Mayor, Chris Tuck is your man. As for policy however, I have concerns. In the 14 years he served in the State house, when did Chris ever vote against a bloated state budget? Show me the innovative bill Chris sponsored to tackle Alaska’s biggest problems. In fact, Chris’ time in the State House was relatively unremarkable. He was a reliable Democrat vote and an advocate for increased spending, especially in education.

    As a resident of the Kenai Peninsula, I have no dog in this fight. But Anchorage politics effect all of us and while I have noted my concerns about Chris, I don’t see any candidate for Mayor who can set Anchorage on the right path. Frankly, for the sake of my friend, I hope someone else wins.

  10. Uh,,, cool story about your dad, New Hampshire, Quebec, logging, teamsters, people getting beat up??????? Don’t know what that had to do with Anchorage, Chris tuck, or Alaska. Do us a favor keep that Juneau thinking/logic in Juneau..

  11. The problem with voting a dem in for mayor is that you will get more of the same as in the past. Bronson has been the best mayor Anchorage has had for years because he is principled. If Anchorage doesn’t vote its leftist assembly out, there will be no change, especially if they vote in a dem. The dems are in charge because of the leftist assembly so CHANGE IT!

  12. If you lived in Anchorage you would realize why anyone representing his party, regardless of ability or personality, should be considered further danger to the way of freedom we seek. They will need years of redemption to change this opinion, but guilt by association is fair game for most. Would not enjoy a hunting trip with him, my neck would be sore.

  13. I do not believe much will change for Anchorage until most of the assembly are replaced. Given the majority of the population are government employed, which I consider socialized employment no matter how stellar and committed the work ethic, most will vote for continued big government. Add in also the ‘fraught with fraud potential’ of mail in ballots, still horribly messy voter rolls, and no accountability to ensure election integrity – I do not hold out much hope for anyone elected to the big chair of the mayors office.

  14. What is the last day Mayor Bronson could withdraw from running for a second term? I’ve heard it may be less than a week from now. And a conservative republican with a stellar reputation could still enter the race as late as sometime in February.

    It seems obvious that Mayor Bronson cannot win this time, because of a *lack of integrity*, especially in how he handled the Amy Demboski situation. They should have worked out their differences privately, and perhaps with their church leaders’ help before it ended up as the public disaster it now is, which the left will use against Dave, along with the snow removal problem and their false claim that the homeless problem is all his fault (though it partly has been because he bypassed the Assembly on proceeding with the navigation center before full approval, which they then used against him).

    With Mayor Bronson staying in the race, the likelihood of ultra liberal, Suzanne LaFrance winning seems too high. I’m disappointed that Dave is still running, instead of letting someone with uncompromised integrity stepping in to run as a Republican.

    The liberal media and the well funded, many attack ads will skewer Dave 24/7 before this is all over. Dropping out before it’s too late would stop this painful onslaught that likely will be successful.

    If Dave stays in, many will vote for him, and Chris Tuck will not be able to beat Suzanne LaFrance in the primary.

    Then it will be Bronson verses LaFrance in the general election, and Dave has too many negatives.

    If Dave were to drop out in time to not be on the ballot, then Tuck would have a good chance, or a Republican who would then enter.

    What is the wise thing to do here?

    Please remember: those who are led by the Holy Spirit are the children of God, Paul clearly says in Romans 8. We need to be led by the Spirit to be real Christians, and to be salt and light. What is Jesus’ will in this situation?

    I hope and pray that Dave would submit his will to the Holy Spirit’s, and do what’s best for Anchorage, please?

    • Greg,

      What does “filing” mean here? We know that LaFrance, Popp, Tuck and Bronson are already in the race, so they already filed, right? Or have none of them even filed yet to be on the ballot?

      I’m pretty sure I heard Amy say on the radio that there will be primaries, so it will be Bronson verses someone else in the general.

      And I thought she said candidates have until some date in the middle of this month to withdraw. And others could still get in the race in early February.

      When Suzanne Downing called into the shows every week, she would fill us in on what’s going on. Now we can’t trust what we hear?

      The city doesn’t inform us, nor does the media, and our elections are so confusing, with the rules changing and not being consistent for local, state and national races.

      Where is what’s really going on here laid out clearly?

      • Declaring one’s candidacy and officially filing to run is the distinction here. The MOA website lists the filing and election dates. APOC also has filing requirements and dates. There are no municipal primaries in Alaska as mayoral and assembly races are characterized as non-political. But to win, a candidate must receive at least 45% of the total votes cast in the first round, otherwise there is a run-off election held approximately 1 month later between the top two vote getters.

  15. The majority of the assembly are the problem. Unless the future mayor goes in lock-step with their far left agenda they will continue hindering what is best for Anchorage. Mayor Bronson has managed to move us in the right direction despite the hindering of the assembly. He has my vote again!

    • The problem is that Mayor Dave Bronson’s negatives seem almost certainly too high for him to be reelected — unless we have a serious, real-Christianity revival really fast, for which there still is still not much interest — people making sure they’re right with others and God so the Devil will take a back seat, instead of compromising even most “Christians” now so they’re not salt or light.

      We have egg on our faces from a lack of integrity. And we can’t overcome demonic dark forces unless we’re abiding in Christ, having clear consciences, empowered by and given wisdom by the Holy Spirit.

      This woke agenda really is demonically driven. Real, evil forces give people (including liberal reporters) strength and ideas to push this agenda. When “Christians” let themselves be overcome by lust and other vices without ever fully repenting there is no being led by the Holy Spirit, and darkness takes over.

      That’s what is happening in Anchorage. Churches are spiritually dead. The presence of God can’t even be felt anymore, but pastors don’t seem to care. The show must go on with or *without* God. There’s very little repentance even in church leadership. I don’t know one pastor in Anchorage who can say what Paul made sure he could:

      “..I also practice ALWAYS having a CONSCIENCE VOID OF OFFENSE toward God and MEN.” – Acts 24:16

      I don’t even know one pastor who preaches this verse. Our standards are not God’s standards. Pastors tell the people what they want to hear, teaching “fables” (2 Tim. 4:3-4).

      “God resists the proud, but [longs to] give grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

      I don’t see much humility, and still see a lot of pride.

      This whole Amy/Dave thing is a mess, and would not have happened had they both been walking according to the Holy Spirit, and had their pastors gotten involved if need be. Whatever happened to working things out according to Matthew 18?

      Paul commanded Christians to not sue Christians in civil courts. That’s what has happened here, and Amy hired the fiercest attack-dog lawyer she could get to go after Dave, who then made all of her accusations against Dave public, which were even sent to our houses in Anchorage.

      And Dave is running for reelection anyway, instead of letting someone run who doesn’t have a tarnished reputation?

      This makes no sense to me. We need to live in reality.

      Anchorage is going down because of a serious lack of real Christianity. The young people especially can smell it, and don’t want much to do with what the spiritually dead churches offer, but would gladly get involved when they see the real thing in us as a group together in holiness unto the Lord, giving Him glory, letting God reign in our hearts so He can move in our city, cleaning up house and our streets — everyone being happy, finally, Jesus’ John-17 prayer answered, God’s Ephesians-4:11-16 goal both preached and fulfilled! No more “trickery of men in craftiness,” leading people astray instead of into holiness, the place of rest and beauty.

      Changed hearts make beautiful cities, not “Christian” administrations that have genital shaped cookies…. Without the fear of the Lord we don’t even have the beginning of wisdom, Proverbs says. The false doctrines of “once saved always saved,” “only believe” and “it’s hard to lose one’s salvation” are seen as a license to sin without ever fully repenting, so hardly anyone can be trusted now, including the pastors.

      A long-time Anchorage pastor who is now in his 90s here had a dream that Anchorage was a Christian city.

      Wouldn’t it be great if he saw that dream fulfilled before he passes on?!!

      Without holiness no one will see the Lord (Heb. 12:14), and we’ll continue to downward spiral.

      With holiness, Anchorage can be a light shining on a hill for the world to see and follow in our footsteps.

      There is no other way. Duct tape isn’t working (Dave’s campaign ad last time).

      Jesus desires His people to be ONE with each other in Him that our joy would be FULL and His glory would be so fully evident “THAT THE WORLD WILL KNOW!” – Jesus’ words and prayer in John 17 that should be accompanied by His goal in Ephesians 4:11-16.

        • Greg, the Welsh Revival of 1904-05 was one of many revivals that *radically* changed communities instantly. In America, we had the First and Second Great Awakenings=. Senator Rand Paul said in 2012:

          “I think we really are in *spiritual crisis* as a country and we need a re-awakening. We need a rival. In my state at Cain Ridge Kentucky in 1801, Pastor Barton Stone started the Second Great Awakening.”

          Here are some of the effects of the Welsh Revival of 1904-05: Whole communities were radically changed FROM DEPRAVITY TO GLORIOUS GOODNESS. The CRIME RATE dropped, often to nothing. *THE POLICE* had little more to do than supervise the coming and going of the people to the chapel prayer meetings. The UNDERGROUND MINES echoed with the sounds of PRAYER and HYMNS, instead of nasty jokes and gossip. People who had fallen out became FRIENDS AGAIN!!!

          You mentioned 2 Cor. 10:4-5, which says: “for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the throwing down of strongholds, throwing down imaginations and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”

          Today, few born-again Christians are free from demonic strongholds that reinforce doctrines of demons in the church like “once saved always saved,” the pre-trib rapture, hatred instead of love, and addictions to lust, attention, the love of money, etc..

          Paul said to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, then God will draw near to us as we draw near to God together, as ‘ONE’ (James 4 and Jesus’ prayer in John 17).

          Tucker Carlson recently said on Timcast: “We’re being acted upon at all times. And I think every person can feel that in themselves. ..there are moments when you are moved to do things that are much better than you actually are, and there are also more evil and destructive than you actually are.”

          Almost all “Christians” today never get free from the lust demons that can make us more evil than we actually are, but when we submit to God fully and resist the Devil, forsaking lust completely we can be free, to then have peace in our hearts, the fruit of the Spirit — love, instead of being covetous.

          The joy of the Lord will be our strength radically when the glory of God happens in Anchorage, after people repent from their sins and get right with those they have hurt, in the fear of the Lord, knowing that our consciences need to be clean now so they’re clean when we are judged by God, so we’ll have faith to enter heaven.

          Evangelism was the fourth point in the Welsh Revival. The first three were to get holy through full repentance and reconciliation, and then obey the Holy Spirit:

          #1 Confess any known sin, and PUT ANY WRONG DONE TO MAN RIGHT again.
          #2 Put away any doubtful habit.
          #3 Obey the Spirit promptly.
          #4 Confess your faith publicly.

          We can do this, the ONLY SOLUTION, being ‘ONE’ with each other in Christ. Imagine the police having hardly anything to do so they sing in choirs instead!

    • Thank you for your comment and attending all those meetings. You are always a voice of reason I am thankful to hear and I agree with you.

  16. Too long; Didn’t read.

    No democrats.
    Not ever.

    Democrats are the exact reason dem-run municipalities are in such dire straits. Taxes, budgets, crime, jobs, you name it.

  17. As a Valley Outsider I can’t help but watch the Soap Opera that is Anchorages Politics. From my vantage point in the Cheap Seats, Chris Tuck is the. New Mark Begich. When you elect a Democrats, you get a Democrats. Higher taxes to pay for more Public Employees pay raises, and more hired Public Employees. The Public Employees will continue to vote for a Liberal Anchorage Assembly. Repeat this cycle evey election till Property owners in Anchorage can no longer afford the taxes and move to the valley or out of state. The template for this process is the Union Town known as Detroit City. In the 70s Anchorage was a fun vibrant city with a future. Now it is like a Fall Equinox, getting colder and darker.No matter how nice their smile, or demeanor, a Democrate will destroy what you have

    .

  18. What’s this but a gentle reminder from the IBEW Party that their Chosen One, Friar Tuck, has been well… chosen, the small anomaly which accidentlly caused Mayor Dave’s election has been corrected, and the rest of Anchorage’s easily corruptible election is, as usual, just a formality?
    .
    Perfect polyamory, no? IBEW Tuck running the Mayor’s office, Alaska Municipal League LaFrance running the Assembly –and elections–, Supreme Court judges keeping the players out of trouble by gelding grand juries.
    .
    How this ends well for productive, law-abiding citizens, including Eaglexiters, remains to be seen.

Comments are closed.