Sunday, March 04, 2007

Anchorage Assembly 2007 Candidate Profile - Jim Byrnes, Section 2, Seat A, Eagle River

Incumbent Eagle River Assemblywoman Debbie Ossiander does have an opponent. At virtually the last minute, Jim Byrnes entered the race. Byrnes, a 55-year old retired construction worker, moved from Anchorage to Eagle River in 1986 after working for years building homes in Eaglewood. Much of this post is drawn from a story published in the Alaska Star, a local weekly serving the Eagle River-Chugiak area just north of the Anchorage Bowl itself but located within the boundaries of the Municipality of Anchorage. The area is primarily suburban and exurban, and primarily consists of upper middle class and rich folks. It is predominantly white.

Byrnes entered the race as a solution to what he calls a corrupt system. “I'm running for the Assembly because everyone whose job it is in the city to protect homeowners and not steal from people are telling lies and not doing their job,” Byrnes said. “Running for office is one way to clean up the city.” This is his first time running for a political office, and he believes he will bring a fair approach to governing. His telephone answering machine message (907-694-9327) says he offers,“a square deal for everyone and no cheating.” Byrnes believes he brings to the table just what is needed to bring honesty back to the Assembly. “If you don't want the city to keep stealing from you and want everyone to be dealt with fairly, vote for me,” Byrnes said. “I won't lie to people to allow the abuse of authority by city employees to continue.”

Byrnes appears to be motivated by an ongoing property dispute with the Municipality. He believes the Municipality is trying to tax him for land he no longer owns. Apparently he also believes that the incumbent, Debbie Ossiander, is at the very least unable to convince the Municipality to give him a fair hearing. He has not been publicly critical of Ossiander by name, though. The following letter to the editor of the Anchorage Press, published on July 20th, 2006, describes the situation more fully:

'Improve' this

Elaine Parmenter can be pleased to know a way has been found to neutralize road project obstructionists (“They should mind their own bidness,” letters, July 6). First, on the unnecessary $1 million-plus project to improve my road, Brownie Drive, no opportunity to comment or oppose the plan was available to critical residents. In fact, there was no plan on paper. Perhaps because of my expressed opposition, when they came to my property, Scott Schnell of the Municipality of Anchorage directed that more than 7,000 square feet be taken along with more than 6,000 tons of rock excavated from my property for use in the road. Since then, from the Mayor's office, roads, tax assessor (I'm still assessed for land stolen 20 months ago), risk management, ombudsmen and others in MOA, I only get a “lie and deny” response. They only investigate by asking the thieves if they did wrong. Incompetence and pure intentions are considered perfect defenses. No help is offered by my Assembly member or legislators. If it works here you may expect to see this process in a neighborhood near you soon.

James Byrnes

Eagle River

According to the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) website, Byrnes has claimed the municipal exemption. This means he is exempt from any campaign finance reporting requirements as long as he doesn't accept or spend more than $5,000 on his campaign. In contrast, Debbie Ossiander has not claimed this exemption and will be raising as much money as she needs, filing the customary reports when required.

While Debbie Ossiander has no campaign website at this moment, she has a reputation of being a pro-choice fiscal conservative from her nine previous years on the Anchorage School Board as well as her six years on the Assembly. If time permits, go to the Minutes Page of the Anchorage Assembly website and review the minutes of the various meetings to determine her voting patterns. One can also review her responses to various questions posed during the 2004 Success By Six Assembly Candidates Forum. Click HERE then scroll down to page 81 to see her responses.

Jim Byrnes has neither a campaign website nor e-mail capability. Here's his contact information:

Jim Byrnes, P.O. Box 770070, Eagle River, AK 99577, (907)-694-9327

Eagle River voters must decide if Jim Byrnes brings enough to the table to override Debbie Ossiander's 15 years service in elective office. Running for elective office primarily because one has a dispute with the Municipality, while unquestionably legitimate, may simply not be enough to persuade Eagle River voters to toss aside an incumbent who has a proven track record of success and who has a high regard for both the taxpayers' wallets, free expression, and the integrity of private property.

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