In their own words: Jennifer Reader
Council Seat C: Three year term
Challenger Jennifer Reader
NN: What is your motivation to run and what are your qualifications to run for the Nome Common Council?
Jennifer Reader: My motivation to run for City Council is to continue to contribute to and serve the community of Nome in a civic capacity since my recent resignation from the school board, which I served on for the past eight years. My civic contribution started about 20 years ago when I arrived in Nome as the Human Resources Manager for the first Battalion, 297th Infantry (Scout), and became a member of the Bering Sea Lions Club a few years later. I have enjoyed an 18-year membership in the positions of secretary, president and currently as the scholarship committee chair. I have also been a member and active participant in the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) for 17 years, board member and active parent/grandparent for the Nome Preschool Association from 1999-2000 and again from 2011-2018, and co-teacher for Faith Followers since 2007. Some of the skills I will bring to the table are a proven ability to serve my community with integrity, tenacity and a sustained commitment to Nome. I am running for office so I can make a difference in Nome on a broader scale. I have spent many years getting involved at the “hands-on” level that has yielded incredible results. I want to apply that energy and focus toward a larger element of governance to achieve greater results.
NN: What are the biggest challenges facing Nome today and how do you propose as councilmember to address them?
Jennifer Reader: The biggest challenges facing Nome today are finding strategies that address: public intoxication, substance abuse, loitering, and vagrancy in a socially responsible and culturally appropriate manner; the public’s lack of trust for the Nome Police Department and City Management; the high costs of living in Nome; state funding shortfalls; increased budgetary costs with decreased revenues, to name a few. I wish I had the immediate answers to all of these issues, but I don’t, and neither does any one individual. It is going to take a strong and dedicated City Council, backed by a strong community, working together to find solutions. I am willing to sit at the table and be part of that process.
NN: How do you propose to stimulate public interest in attending meetings and becoming involved in city issues?
Jennifer Reader: I feel the only thing that stimulates attendance at public meetings is growing discontent with one or more issues, and whatever proposed solution the Council or City Management may have deemed appropriate. I hope not to stimulate that kind of attendance but to generate interest in creating an open dialogue so we as a community can come together to collaborate on solutions by having genuine and productive discussions. So many young people these days rely on social media for information and often provide feedback in the same forum. I think the City Council should consider a way for constituents to communicate via social media and also reestablish the live meeting broadcasts they used to have on the community channel. I believe that helped our community stay abreast of what issues were being addressed by the Council.
NN: How do you propose to combat the alcohol and substance abuse problem in Nome?
Jennifer Reader: I do not have the specific training or educational knowledge to combat the alcohol and substance abuse issues that face our community. I have read many ideas for solutions but they all seem to screech to a halt due to funding issues. I will be an advocate to combat the cause as well as the disease so Nome can help some of our most at-risk citizens and continue to vet possible solutions presented to the council by many organizations that have the expertise to guide our city. We need to identify suitable funding streams, which are becoming increasingly difficult due to our state’s fiscal crisis. We have an incredible support network for these individuals but we need solutions, not a temporary band-aid.
NN: Please outline your proposal to restore citizens’ trust in the Nome Police Department and describe what a functional NPD would look like in your opinion.
Jennifer Reader: To restore the public’s trust in the Nome Police Department and the City Administration (they both need to be addressed as they go hand in hand) will take significant time and effort. I believe the first step would be for all officers to be required to wear a camera during duty hours and have every encounter recorded. Any officer conducting a service call who disables their device should be terminated immediately. All officers need to attend cultural sensitivity training along with Sexual Assault Response training. Any violations incurred after this training should be fully documented, with minor infractions resulting in suspension without pay, and major infractions resulting in immediate termination. There is much fear of reprisal among the public, with some actually feeling targeted, while others believe they are not dealt with fairly or the same as another who has committed a similar offense. This must end! Continuity and fairness needs to be addressed. The NPD hiring process and committee needs to be more transparent. A policy update is necessary in order to avoid blatant errors from tainting a future hire.
Many issues have called into question the integrity and lack of transparency of the City Management. A change is long overdue. The officers we hire should have impeccable character both on and off duty. Their character should not be in question EVER! It is hard to hold others to a standard you are not willing to maintain yourself.