Wrangell Borough Assemblymember Mark Mitchell is leaving that post. Now, he’s the only candidate running for a seat on the Port Commission. KSTK’s Quinton Chandler spoke with Mitchell about his plans.

Mark Mitchell: I’ve been (a) councilman, or assemblyman, for the past four years. I’ve decided to let somebody else take a turn so I stepped aside but I still wanted to serve the community, so I signed up to run for the Port Commission.

Quinton Chandler: What do you think that you can bring to the Port Commission?

Mark Mitchell: I have a working knowledge of how the assembly works. Since everything that goes through the commission has to eventually come through the assembly, I might be able to give some insight on what they’re looking for and how to accomplish our goals.

Quinton Chandler: What are the biggest issues you see right now facing the commission?

Mark Mitchell: The biggest issues I see (are) of course our facilities and maintaining our facilities and yet holding down the prices of the stall rent and the services that don’t distract from bringing people here and adding to the business.

Quinton Chandler: Helping the business opportunities there in town grow, but at the same time minimizing costs?

Mark Mitchell: Well yeah, we can add all kinds of facilities but pretty soon the costs are out of hand and we can’t afford it and the prices have to go up. And then we’re, we’re in competition anyway with some of the other major ports for the boat building, and repairs, and services. If we continue to not control our costs, they will go up and we will no longer have the competitive edge. Right now, it’s very reasonable to come here but if we lose that, we’re out of the way and I’m not so sure we won’t lose a lot of business in the process.

Quinton Chandler: Is there a proposal or an idea that you’d like to introduce to the Port Commission?

Mark Mitchell: Not really. I would say it’s a balancing act and we have to balance what we do with what we have. I don’t want to change Wrangell. One of the reasons I came to Wrangell was because it was a good, honest, working community and I want to see it stay that way.

So, we have 52 percent of the population in Wrangell under the poverty level. Which means about $27,000 a year. 18 percent of that 52 percent is elderly. So, if we start raising taxes and costs on harbor rates, those people will leave and eventually the people that replace them may not be the working class. But, you can’t sell Wrangell to the high-dollar market when 52 percent of our population is at the poverty level. We need to make jobs, we need to make sure that we employ the people we have here but, yet not let things get out of hand to the point that they can’t stay here.

Quinton Chandler: Is there any other issue or any other issues that you think are important to mention that you would see yourself facing on the Port Commission?

Mark Mitchell: Oh, I think we’re going to be up against a lot of things: the taxes mainly, the costs of maintaining these ports, keeping the fishermen viable. I think it’s our job as a Port Commission to help business grow, not hinder it.

Quinton Chandler: Thanks a lot for taking the time out; I appreciate it.

Mark Mitchell: You bet, bye.