Which type of fish will you spend the most time trying to catch this summer?
City Council Candidate Christian McGee
My name is Christian Cyle McGee and I was born in Denison, Texas in 1979. My family moved to Alaska for the second time in 1996, and I graduated from Valdez High School in 1998. The education I received here in Valdez has allowed me to grow from flipping burgers at a family-owned, community-based business, to cleaning loading berths and tanks at the terminal and assisting in rebuilding the refinery.
While living here for the past 16 years, I have helped build local homes, volunteered during floods, and even had my life saved by the men and women in of the Fire Department and Volunteer EMS Staff. Valdez is also where I meet my soon-to-be wife, Amber Burton. We have two children, Sydney Burton and Elijah McGee, who were both born at Providence Valdez Medical Center.
My hobbies included virtually everything that defines living like an Alaskan. I enjoy hunting, fishing, four-wheeling, snowboarding and snow machining. I’ve made Valdez my home and want my children to enjoy everything this tight-knit community has to offer as well. I want to provide them the same wonderful opportunities that I have received and give them hope in a bright future here at home.
What are three main challenges for the City of Valdez in the next five years? As a potential council member, how do you plan to address them?
First, I would like to point out that as a two-year position, a council member can only truly begin a process during their initial tenure if a majority vote from the council approves the plan. Taking this into consideration, I would plan to address the following three main challenges for the City of Valdez in the next five years:
1. Economic Growth
We have a port industry resource that is not being utilized. I would like to see what cities like Seward, Homer, and Whittier are doing to achieve their goals and learn from them. We have a marine industry available that we can’t even service because we don’t have the facilities. I would like to see more cost-efficient strategic planning in place for this area.
We have a unique opportunity with our yearly snowfall to expand more on winter sports. The council needs to loosen some red tape to allow the industry to get off its feet. Everyone talks about wanting to guide it and regulate it, but if you have no industry. You can’t guide it to serve the community. I would like to see the city build infrastructure to facilitate progress in this sector.
Last, but not least, is the Natural Gas line. Yes, I think we all want it, but it can’t be our center of attention. I would like to continue pushing for its arrival in Valdez. I believe we need to take action before we lose another market in which to sell the gas.
The City of Valdez currently has a housing shortage and, consequently, is lacking the ability to expand housing for a growing economy. The city needs to open up more land, make those properties affordable to lower income families, so they can start building and growing the city’s revenue source. Even privately-owned individual lots with trailers on them are worth more than the taxes collected from the trailers in trailer courts. Try offering land big enough to build a house on, but small enough to be affordable.
3. Reduction of Energy Cost
Our cost of living is through the roof! The city expenditures are off the charts for heating and electricity costs. I would like to eventually see our city be a model for green energy. Between wind, tidal, and geothermal energy we should not be suffering from such high energy costs. We need to take a serious look at this and weigh the options in front of the city.
The City of Valdez has put considerable effort into strategic planning in the last few years, do you feel the current level of planning is lacking, adequate, or excessive? Please explain.
I feel that the current level of strategic planning is excessive in regards to the allocation of city resources needed to pursue their defined strategy. It seems that the current position is somewhat particular to the business sector and not the community as a whole. Although strategic planning is certainly necessary in ensuring that funds are being expended reasonably, it appears that all the possible avenues through which we can pursue our goals are not being explored. For example, we seem to be heavily investing in new structures as opposed to maintaining our current assets first. Economic growth needs to begin with a solid foundation in order to secure a successful future.