Nikiski resident John Quick is seeking a seat in District 3 — representing Nikiski — on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly. The seat is currently held by Wayne Ogle. According to his candidate file, Quick is currently the managing director of Nikiski Hardware & Supply. He has been a resident of Alaska since 2015, his file says. Quick has a bachelor’s in business administration from Northwest University. He previously served as the chief of staff to borough Mayor Charlie Pierce and was Department of Administration Commissioner Designee for Gov. Mike Dunleavy.
What makes you qualified to serve on the assembly?
Well, there’s actually only a couple qualifications for the borough. You’ve got to be a certain age and if you have to be a resident of the borough. More importantly, I think, is I have a real passion to serve, and so I think that being part of the assembly, whether you’re on a service board or an assembly member or just somebody that’s volunteering service is a big part of that. It’s actually so important to me that I’m going to withdraw myself from taking a paycheck, health care benefits and a retirement plan from the borough, and just be an actual volunteer if elected as the assembly person.
What do you hope to accomplish while serving on the assembly?
I think some of the things that are important as I listen to folks in Nikiski — I hear their concerns and I hear their possible frustrations. One thing that comes to my mind is property rights. We had the anadromous stream ordinance pass a number of years back which basically took 50 feet of everybody’s property that was on an anadromous stream or an anadromous lake. And to folks in Nikiski that was very upsetting. Most of them found out about it after the fact and I think if we’re not careful in who we elect to the borough, we will see more than 50 feet taken from those folks in the future. Another important issue to me is being fiscally conservative, so I will make every effort humanly possible if elected to the assembly to not have any mill rate increase and to not have any sales tax increase because I think the borough has plenty of money. As the chief of staff for Mayor Pierce, I was able to see the ins and outs of how government works and functions, and there does not need to be any new taxes.
What would be your approach to balancing the budget?
We don’t have a revenue problem. I’ve seen the ins and outs of our budget as the chief of staff, and we do not have a revenue problem. What we do have is incremental growth in government — 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6% — over the last 30 years and that’s not sustainable. What I think Mayor Pierce has done a really good job at is cutting where he can. So I would make sure we do the exact same thing on the assembly. Often times on the assembly, every idea they have is revenue, which is a fancy word for tax. People around here don’t want more taxes. Every time it’s been on the ballot it’s been voted down since the history of the borough. I think that people here, specifically in Nikiski, would be for balancing the budget even if it means cuts. Just like you would do in your household budget. If every month you’re spending $5,000 a month but you only have $3,000 coming in there’s only a certain amount of months before you go bankrupt. So you have to cut to balance your budget. I think that often times when you say cut people take it personally, when it’s just a matter of matching your expenses to your revenues.
How can the borough encourage higher voter turnout?
I think voter turnout at the end of the day comes down to leadership. So who’s leading the charge in each one of these districts to get voters to turn out. It doesn’t have anything to do with machines. I think there are certain things we can do to increase ADA standards so that folks with wheelchairs or walking around with canes can have more accessible access to voter machines. I think that’s a true thing. I also think that the borough complaining about low turnout is not going to help the situation. You have to be proactive, you have to go to where the people are. And so, as we see in most every assembly meeting, we see the same 20 people that show up to the meetings. Why? Not because people don’t care about what’s going on, but people have jobs, people have families, and so not everybody can show up to Soldotna every other Tuesday. What the borough could do is take a more proactive stance on getting involved in other things outside of borough meetings as an assembly person.
The offering of invocations during assembly meetings has become a divisive issue over the last few years, costing taxpayers thousands of dollars. Ordinances have been introduced to rid the practice altogether. Where do you stand on that issue?
I am for having prayer at the borough, and I think there’s a respectful way to do it where other folks feel included, and I think the non-respectful thing is to just take it away altogether. I think for whatever reason, in today’s day and age in politics, you are either super for something or super against something. And we’ve lacked the ability to say ‘hey, let’s meet in the middle and figure this thing out together so that we can be equally excited about this’. I think somebody could be as equally excited about the invocation if, given the opportunity, somebody from a different religious perspective could just do a moment of silence or whatever they wanted to do, and then when it came time for someone with a Christian perspective they can do their prayer how they want to do it. I think taking it away takes away the fabric and the framework from which this county was founded by. In the United States Senate, there’s been a chaplain for forever, a paid chaplain, and I think that people oftentimes overlook that. That happens in the United States, today, they have a paid chaplain and there’s prayer at every Senate and every House meeting. And its been that way ever since our foundation, and I think there are certain organizations trying to take away that liberty and I would stand in the middle and fight for that.
Earlier this year you resigned from your position in the Dunleavy administration after accusations were made against you in regards to your resume. Would you like to speak to that, and why should voters trust you to serve on the assembly?
What I would say is that it’s been addressed. I had an interview and a story put out by KSRM that addressed those issues. They’ve been debunked, and we’ve moved on. What I’m really concerned about is serving the folks of Nikiski. Anybody can Google and find the KSRM article if they’d like, and that spells out what happened. At the end of the day, it just was not true. To get into the weeds and to have a battle with folks is not what I’m looking to do on a daily basis. It’s moving forward and being in a position where I can best serve my community. It’s already been addressed as far as I’m concerned.