Valerie Therrien has been a progressive voice in Fairbanks politics for at least 30 years that I have lived here. Currently, she is a candidate for mayor of the city of Fairbanks, and I support her 100%.
For the past 40 years, her professional life has been busy as a lawyer. She has also served our Fairbanks community as a volunteer in civic organizations and as a public servant, either as a member of Fairbanks City Council or the Borough Assembly.
When I think of Valérie, I think of leadership. She listens to anyone with a proposal for the common good of our community.
The city of Fairbanks has a difficult history recruiting and retaining its police force. In 2017, when there were talks of recruiting Fairbanks police and dispatchers using bonuses based on years of service, there was strong opposition. Enter Valerie, the executive who pointed out that the salary savings of employees who had left town could be used for bonuses. A savings of $435,000 on police salaries would cover the $102,000 needed for officer bonuses. And $215,000 in dispatcher salary savings for almost $28,000 for their bonuses. With Valérie’s help, the measure passed. Recruitment and retention are slowly improving.
Again in 2017, when Fairbanks City Council unanimously passed a resolution that would finally signal the end of the decrepit Polaris Building downtown, a member of council proposed an alternative version of the resolution that would include a wording to broaden the objectives of the redevelopment. The measure failed, but Valérie Therrien then proposed an amendment to the council members’ resolution that added language favoring the construction of large retail businesses and condominiums.
“I think that would take into consideration [the council member’s] concern,” Therrien said.
Valerie once again shows that she is focused and deliberate, and has an eye and an ear to know precisely what needs to be done. The amendment passed and all six council members then voted to pass the resolution.
Valerie’s sense of responsibility and tolerance for members of her community was again in May 2018, when City Council was approving marijuana regulations. This was precisely during the discussion on the number of establishments that were going to be authorized, which fluctuated between 10 and 15. Therrien proposed to increase the limit of retail stores to 25. His reasoning: it would be just for the six stores currently in operation, as well as the three that were set to open and the 16 others that have submitted applications and are being reviewed by the state Office of Alcohol and Marijuana Control .
Therrien said, “I don’t think it would be fair for the marijuana industry to limit the number of licenses after people have already started and spent their money and now say to them, oh, we’re going to reduce it to 15.” The passed resolution would limit retail stores to 25.
Although Fairbanks is Alaska’s second largest city, it lacks legal protections for the LGBTQ+ community. This means that basic rights ranging from basic discrimination at home, work and basic life are not protected. In early spring 2018, Ordinance 6093 as written, guaranteed fairness and the freedom to love who you love, to be who you are, to live and work without discrimination, thereby recognizing the fundamental rights of all here in Fairbanks. Valerie voted in favor of Ordinance 6093. The Ordinance passed 4-2; however, he vetoed it a few days later.
There are many other examples of Valerie’s thoughtful and civil leadership. Tell me, how can we afford not to have such an experienced, considerate, and committed community advocate for everyone as the mayor of the city of Fairbanks, Alaska?
Vote for Valérie Therrien as mayor of your city of Fairbanks.
Mary Kehrhahn-Stark lives in Fairbanks.