2019 Elections: Mayor; Challenger Keith Morrison
Nome Nugget: What is your motivation to run for Mayor of Nome and what are your qualifications?
Keith Morrison: My motivation to run for Mayor comes from the encouragement of community members, colleagues and friends. I feel like now is the time for me to offer support in a more direct way. I know many people have bravely come forward with concerns, and I want to honor that. I want to lend a hand in making our community the best we can be.
My qualifications center around being a listener, a team member and hard worker. I am a member of several wellness-related groups, like the Regional Wellness Forum, the Community Alcohol Safety Team and Nome Safety Patrol, and I think that experience will lend to my ability to contribute to discussions and decisions. I also think that the ability to listen and hear differing perspectives is important to leadership.
Nome Nugget: A significant function of the Mayor is to be the ceremonial head of the city, representing Nome. What is your vision of Nome and what are your priorities that you as Mayor would like to represent?
Keith Morrison: My vision of Nome is firmly positioned alongside my priorities. Nome is a place where many believe that the growth we are now seeing, is positive, hopeful and balanced. Although some may want big changes to come quickly, I think long-time Nome residents know that sustainable growth doesn’t happen overnight, and that we need to consult with our community about potential impacts of development. For our community to come together and feel heard, we need opportunities for engagement and more spaces created for conversations where the voices of community members are driving positive change.
Nome Nugget: Recently a Public Safety Commission was instated. How would you, as mayor, elevate the issue of making Nome a safe place for everybody and what would your vision be for a functioning Nome Police Department?
Keith Morrison: In order for our community to be safer, we need to continue to have honest conversations. Although I have been part of the push for the creation of the Public Safety Commission, I know the operation of the commission is where the real work begins. I am hopeful for our community. I know it will take time to see the outcomes, but the step Nome has taken is so important. It took strength for a group of individuals to come forward and bring issues into the public eye. I want to honor the brave individuals who decided to turn their trauma into everyone’s healing. I want our public safety policies to work in ways that will care for victims. I want our public safety system to operate with accountability and integrity.
Nome Nugget: Over the years, public intoxication and homelessness have worsened. Within the scope of the mayor’s office, how do you suggest addressing the issue?
Keith Morrison: I think first of all, we need to reframe how we are seeing these issues. These are public health issues. We are seeing these things in many communities because of several reasons. We need to recognize it is a complex situation. There are overlapping issues, like poverty, a major housing crisis, trauma and self-medication. This is a situation of our systems not being fully equipped with the resources, education and training to respond in the ways we should. I think that once we reframe how we talk about these issues, and recognize everyone’s human dignity, only then can we enter into meaningful conversations about partnerships and solutions.
Nome Nugget: How do you propose to stimulate public interest to get involved in local government?
Keith Morrison: A few of the main ways that we can stimulate public interest in local government is by taking the government to the people and by getting young people more directly involved and interested in the process. We have talked about this for years and have continued to fall short. By taking the government to the people I mean having meetings at different time, meeting in different locations, creating a city council chamber that is inviting. Getting more young people directly involved could be having local government allow young people to shadow them for a while, or offering times throughout the year when council members have a youth who can be part of a city meeting with them, in more than just a ceremonial way. Creating space on the city council agenda for youth to have time to address their community; what they’ve learned, what they’ve seen, what they would like to see. We as adults need to hear more from the youth.
Nome Nugget: Why should voters cast their vote for you?
Keith Morrison: I feel that I can offer something different. I think it’s time for us to move forward in a positive way and hopefully people see that I am willing to do the work.