Ask the Candidate: Anne Schaefer

Anne Schaefer. Photo courtesy of Anne Schaefer

Candidate for Cordova City Council Seat E
Incumbent, running against Ken Jones

Job: Avian research assistant at Prince William Sound Science Center

Public service: Cordova City Council member, Parks and Recreation Committee member, Copper Delta Ducks Unlimited committee member, AK Salmon Runs board member, Cordova Family Resource Center volunteer coach, Copper River Watershed Project volunteer, U.S. Forest Service volunteer, Cordova Arts and Pageants volunteer, Bidarki Recreation Center volunteer

Education: Master’s degree in Wildlife Biology, University of Montana

The city closed a more than $1 million funding gap by making deep cuts to several departments. How well did the city council handle the challenges of the 2021 budget?

The budget cycle was particularly challenging this year. As a council, I think we did a good job working together with the information available to us and by listening to community feedback to develop a budget that continues to provide services to our community without digging us into a hole in subsequent years. The city manager, staff and council offered creative ways to save money within departments, such as streamlining various positions. One bright spot is the likely return of some school bond debt reimbursement from the state, which will hopefully bring in about $450,000 or so that we hadn’t originally included in the budget. In this coming year, I’m really excited to focus more energy on strategic planning and goal setting to set us up for long-term economic sustainability. With that in mind, we’ll need to make sure we include stakeholders from all parts of the community early in the strategic planning and budget process.

How would you like to see the city adjust its coronavirus response?

Something I would like to see moving forward is increased financial support or relief for our local businesses who were hit particularly hard by pandemic restrictions. The Cordova Cash Cards were a great injection of money into local businesses, but less so for those businesses who are only open seasonally.

Overall, city leadership and the entire community have done an incredible job this past year responding and adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic. The city response was guided by listening to local, state and federal medical experts using the best information available at the time. I fully supported the early adoption of a mask mandate, which I continue to support.

What’s the most rewarding part of serving on city council?

As a city council member, I am deeply invested in the decision-making process that helps Cordova and its residents thrive. The people of Cordova — no matter their political or religious views — are very passionate about our community. We all want to see Cordova succeed and persevere, and it is incredibly rewarding to be one part of the process to make this place successful.

Your opponent, Ken Jones, established a reputation not only as an energetic city councilman, but also as a successful multi-entrepreneur. Why should voters select you over him?

Representation on council should reflect our community. We should always be working to include more voices with diverse perspectives, which will only strengthen our community. Council currently benefits from the input of several successful entrepreneurs. I represent a perspective of the community not otherwise reflected on council – I am a young woman, a scientist and I work in the non-profit sector, therefore I understand the challenges of working within a limited budget. I am a level-headed critical thinker and am willing to reassess my viewpoints when presented with new and relevant information. My listening skills, positive attitude and respect for others, even those with whom I disagree, make me an effective representative for our community and an asset to the council.

Cordova is my home. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to serve my community on council for the past three years and I am excited about the prospect of serving for three more.

What should the city do to shore up Cordova’s deteriorating harbor infrastructure?

The harbor is an important resource and economic driver for our community. And the harbor is an area in which we are really starting to make progress — I’m feeling pretty excited and optimistic about it. One major problem, as always, is money. Fortunately, city staff are actively pursuing multiple state and federal grant programs that will help us revamp our harbor. Cordova is the top-level priority project for the State’s Tier I Harbor Facility Grant Program. Additionally, our application for the federal Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant was within the top 20% of applications. Staff are working to improve areas of the application so we will be even more competitive (and hopefully successful!) when we reapply.

The Cordova General Election will be held Tuesday, March 2 from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. at the Cordova Center, selecting new members of Cordova City Council, the Cordova School Board and the Cordova Community Health Center Authority Board.