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Eagle River District Race Pits Assembly Veteran Against Politically Savvy Newcomer

By Steve Mac Donald, Special Projects Manager and Host of "The 49th Report" and "One Alaska", stevem@ktuu.com
Published On: Mar 28 2014 06:13:34 PM AKDT
Eagle River District Race Pits Assembly Veteran Against Politically Savvy Newcomer
ANCHORAGE -

The Eagle River assembly race pits an assembly veteran against a political newcomer.

Bill Starr is seeking his third term as the Eagle River-Chugiak assembly representative.

Starr is one of the leading conservatives on the assembly and very much involved in city budget matters.

"I'm kind of like the fiscal hawk,” Starr said. “I watch that a lot."

As chair of the Assembly Budget and Finance Committee Starr says he's worried about the city’s fiscal future.

"I'm worried about our financials,” Starr said. “Our finances both with the downturn, perhaps in oil revenue and the pressure Juneau is under, we're going to need our A team at the table financially."

Starr is facing a challenge from first time candidate Sharon Gibbons. Gibbons was born and raised in Anchorage. She has an extensive background in the legal system.

There are several reasons Gibbons says she's running for the assembly. She wants to improve the quality of schools and transportation. Gibbons also claims Starr is doing a poor job representing the community.

"Constituents have said they've tried to call Mr. Starr and have not had a returned phone call," Gibbons said. "Some members of community councils have not ever met him."

Starr says Gibbons's claim has no merit.

"I reach out and I also take all my calls, all my emails," Starr said. "Thirteen-hundred minutes on my cell phone isn't atypical for me."

One point both candidates can agree on is that Eagle River isn't Anchorage; it is its own community and should be developed as residents see fit.

Both Gibbons and Starr says the Eagle River area is feeling pressure as Anchorage seeks a solution to its housing shortage.

Each candidate says any new development in Eagle River needs to be balanced against the community's values.