Jensen hopes to take Mayor seat in proposed borough assembly
Mark Jensen is a third generation Petersburg resident and commercial fisherman who is seeking election as Mayor in the proposed borough assembly.
“I think it's important for Petersburg to be involved in the government for the area,” Jensen said. “If the government isn't seated in Petersburg, it will be somewhere because I think eventually all of the areas will be in an organized borough.”
When asked, Jensen said he was not sure of the chances for the borough election to pass.
“I'm really not sure if it will pass or not,” he stated. “I kind of feel it will pass but I don't think it will be by a large margin. There still seems to be a lot of people on the fence and waiting for all of the information to come out, but I am definitely in favor of the borough.”
Jensen thinks that Petersburg may not see any benefit in his time, but there may be some in his kids or grandkids time if there is more development in the area.
“I like Southeast the way it is,” Jensen said. “But there is a lot of potential for resource extraction. There is mining, maybe some more timber and I think it would be nice to have a seat at the table for these decisions.”
Jensen has been interested in politics for some time. “I just view myself as having a common sense attitude, and that won't hurt in any situation.”
He also explained that he knew Mayor Al Dwyer would be stepping down and he knows this is going to be a contentious time for the borough assembly.
“If the borough passes, it is going to take a while for the dust to settle,” Jensen said. “We will also be going through a transition period, so it will be difficult.”
The opportunities for much more for the region is always possible.
“It's hard to say what will come down the road,” Jensen said. “But immediately, I think it's nice to have some control of what happens in the region. There is potential for fish tax, it happens in the state already and our fleet is pretty dominant in Southeast and part of the area that Juneau is trying to annex is a big player when it's a good salmon year. A lot of money comes from that area and I would hate to see our fleet taxed by another community.”
With formation comes challenges and one of the main challenges this assembly will face is all of the empty chairs.
“One of the biggest challenges is getting enough people to run for all of the boards,” Jensen stated. “We have two vacancies on the assembly; all of the positions are empty on the planning and zoning commission; the hospital board has four and the school board has only two. It makes me wonder why, if they are so concerned about the decisions being made and there are open positions on the boards and council then put your name in the hat and state your opinion.”
Jensen also explained that the APOC financial disclosure will still be required even for appointment but the signatures are not required.
“A vote of the public is the only thing that can change that requirement,” Jensen said. “Petersburg opted out of that filing requirement in the 70s but this is a state election and we have to play by state rules.”
Unification of the community and constituents will be very difficult.
“Some people, I don't think can be unified,” Jensen stated. “There is some bitterness and this can go on for a long time and that is unfortunate, but it is the political process.”
The first major issues and concerns to address will the assessment of property.
“I think we have a year to get that complete,” Jensen said. “I am hoping that the people of Papke’s and Keene Channel will bring their concerns to the table and all of us handle things positively for the future.”
Jensen explained that there will really be no changes from City government to Borough government.
“That will be something that depends on them,” he stated. “The way the charter is set up is, if they want to petition for them and set up a service district; if they want to stay the way they are, it will not change. That is one of the nice things about the charter.”
“I have been married since 1990, have two children, I have fished in these waters since I was 14 and I run a welding business in the winter time,” Jensen said. “I have a vested interest in the well being of the community. I have no personal agenda, but I would like to see the expansion in the boat repair and more facilities for hydro production.”
Jensen says he doesn't usually have much to say but he just wants to be a part of the process.
“I hope you will all vote and have your voice heard,” Jensen concluded.