Which type of fish will you spend the most time trying to catch this summer?
City Council Candidate Josh Swierk
An eight year resident of Valdez, I have served on the Parks and Recreation Commission for 5 years, two of which I was Chair.
I currently serve on the Valdez Planning and Zoning Commission, and the Prince William Sound State Parks Advisory Board.
My wife Tabatha and I have two daughters, ages 2 years and 2 months. We own small businesses: Robe Lake Lodge, Black Ops Valdez (a commercial ski operation), and EastRidge Construction. We also revived the Valdez Trails Association in 2009; a non-profit organization that is working to create a year round multi-use trail system on Sugarloaf Mountain.
I graduated from the University of Maine with a BS in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism with a concentration in Commercial Recreation Management.
I am an avid outdoorsman and enjoy snowboarding, snowmachining, mountain biking, four wheeling, flying, shooting and hunting.
I am running for council because I want to see Valdez prosper and I want my children to have the best recreational and educational opportunities possible.
Valdez has enormous untapped potential and resources. Diversifying our economy is especially important. I hope to capitalize on and utilize our resources, and remain financially conservative in planning for our community’s future.
1. There are many challenges that I may face as a council member. With that in mind, here are three main challenges I see Valdez facing in the near future, and some potential avenues to address them.
A. Economic Diversification
Encourage and promote small business and entrepreneurship
Support sustainable growth in both the summer and winter tourism market
Eliminate red tape and streamline the process
Make available affordable property for a variety of business types (i.e. river front, mountain side, lake front, business strip, etc.)
Look at ways to expand our port and small boat harbor in a sustainable manner
Explore possibilities to bring cruise ships back
Explore the possibility of new oil terminal/and or pipeline tours
Find ways to market and capitalize on the 1964 earthquake
Promote Valdez as the winter wonderland of the US
Maximize our location: gateway to Thompson Pass, and Prince William Sound, Historical Gold Rush Route to the Interior
“Branding” Valdez as a destination
B. Plan for the Future (with or without a gas line)
Look at potential avenues for a city wide LNG distribution network
Work towards making affordable heat and electricity a reality for the citizens of Valdez
Work with CVEA to develop a long term energy plan
Look for ways to reallocate budget funds (while we have the money) to places that will help carry Valdez into the future beyond any oil or gas line
C. Control Spending in the Short Term
Cut spending on high priced feasibility studies, facilitators and lobbyists
Spend money on things that are tangible (i.e. real assets, repairing or upgrading existing facilities)
Maximize our utilization of the facilities and infrastructure that currently exist
Eliminate expenditures aimed to promote private businesses to maintain fair competition among business owners
Work towards the goal of a fiscally responsible beautification plan to promote community pride
Examine the budget to determine where savings can be realized, and better community investments can be made
2. 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 believe that a sound Strategic Plan is needed for the future of Valdez. A great deal of time and effort from City administration and community members has gone into the development of the new strategic plan. It looks at every aspect of our community and tries to set a goal or vision for the future. Inevitably, all of the aspects of a plan this size will not come to fruition. But the biggest concern in my mind, is that all of this work will be wasted if, once completed, we never go back to look at the plan and USE it to responsibly move ahead as a community. Historically, Valdez has been very much a boom or bust town. In times of prosper there has been a lack of vision for the future. A plan like this sets general “goals” as well as more specific “milestones” for our future. It helps paint a picture of where we might be, or perhaps would like to be, 5 or 10 years from now. And it helps by identifying stepping-stones by which we can measure our success. I believe the current level of planning is adequate and just hope that we put it to good use once the plan is finalized. Maybe it doesn’t always mean that what is in the plan is the only way for something to be done, but if elected I intend to use the plan to aid me in making any decisions that will impact our future.