Questions for Bob
(and Answers)

Click here to submit a question. I will post your questions and my answers below.

What is your position on acquiring a new hospital?

The current hospital was built in the mid 1980’s. It has served the community well over the years. The clinic has been changed and remodeled several times in the interim. There have been several assessments on remodeling the current hospital. The conclusion is that it would be expensive and very disruptive over a period of years. I have read these assessments which are available to you on line at I have also toured the hospital numerous times. While I would like to keep a hospital in the current location, it is more advantageous to the community to build one on a new site.

The current debate that $80 million is too much to replace the hospital, is an interesting point. There are only 4 options available:

  • keep the current facility until it totally fails;

  • look for an outside corporation or group that is willing to take it over;

  • bond for construction; or

  • seek outside sources of funding.

The Hospital Board and the Assembly have addressed each option at one time or another. Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) has been the choice of some residents. During numerous dialogues between the Assembly and representatives of SEARHC, there were no complete answers to the questions raised by the community, Assembly and Hospital Board members. When asked if the community could have a voting representative on the board, the answer was No, maybe a representative. Without a voting member how can the needs of the community be truly represented? When asked what services would be provided, the answer was what we think you should have.

If you decide that SEARHC and the community are not a good match, which I have decided, then the next choice is to bond or to seek outside financing. The Borough does not have the financial capability to bond. Even if we did, I would not be in favor of bonding as there are a multitude of other needs. That leaves seeking outside financing as the Hospital Board, Hospital CEO and the Borough Assembly have agreed to do. To date the Borough and PMC have been successful in obtaining $28 million with the help of both Senator Murkowski and State Senator Stedman. That puts the Borough in a position to get all the ground work completed and to start construction.

Site testing is currently going on and hopefully, a site for a campus can be selected this winter. I am very supportive of the current approach and believe that we can obtain the necessary funding to complete the project without bonding or increasing taxes. The project will require full support from the Assembly and the Hospital Board. After working with the Hospital Board and the Hospital CEO for over 6 years, I have full confidence that we can make it happen. Finally, I very much would like to retain local control so medical care can be shifted and targeted to the needs of our community. If you have questions and concerns, please talk to the Hospital Board whom you elected. They are very willing to meet and talk.

Where do you stand on providing funding for child care?

Currently, the Borough has formed a task group looking at ways to fund child care. The issues involved are not straight forward. Solutions will not be easy to make. There are private, non-profit and public day care businesses in town. We are fortunate to have them. Whatever solutions the Task Group develops must represent all interests. Rules for child care facilities and oversight come from the Federal and State levels. The Borough has no say or control. The Borough can however, represent the business as a whole. That requires more coordination and finding common ground among the different entities.

I have spent over 10 years doing volunteer maintenance (even working for a year putting an addition on the center) at the Petersburg Children’s Center and have talked about day care, the needs, the concerns, and the future with numerous people.

We are fortunate to have all spectrum of day care represented from for profit to non-profit. For profit has a greater ability to set rates and opening and closing. Our non-profit answers to a board that changes frequently. The ability of parents to pay also varies tremendously. What is the responsibility of employers to help pay for child care? What responsibility does the Borough have to provide funding and how would it be done? These are but a few of the questions and hopefully as they are discussed, a consensus can be reached. Let’s allow the process that has been put in place to operate.

Bob working on handicap ramp at the Children's Center

What is your position on affordable housing?

Some of us who go back a few years remember in the mid 1980’s we had an affordable housing situation. I built a home in Petersburg for our family during that time because we could not find housing. Interest rates were very high. That situation has returned. There are very few lots available that have utilities to the lot line. To my knowledge none of these lots are on the market. Some private entities have large blocks of land. Again, to my knowledge, no one group has plans to put the infrastructure in place to sell lots.

The Assembly voted to form a housing work group that will come forward with some recommendations. The working group will be selected in September. Listening to the audio of the recent work session intended to set some objectives for the housing work group, there were many ideas. I believe the first task of the work group will be to define the problem we are trying to solve. I heard at least 4 different problems identified.

I heard a number of potential solutions. Before we can set a course we need to look in depth at the pros and cons of each. There is also a question on the role the borough has in using public funds and resources to solve the various housing issues that have been identified.

The cost of running water, sewer, roads and electric to a tract of land is very expensive. Costs vary between $500-$900 per lineal foot depending on the muskeg conditions. One other extremely important variable is tying a new subdivision to existing sewer and water lines where those lines are already are maxed to their limits. Yes, the Borough has land that could be auctioned and sold. Without a planned approach for sewer and water the cost for an individual buyer would be almost prohibitive.

I have heard many suggestions on how to solve the problem. Many residents tell me they do not want their taxes to increase. Some suggest that changing the planning and zoning rules would help. I have looked at this. Yes, there are several of the zoning pieces that could be tweaked and may provide several opportunities for home construction but it is not the full solution that folks would like.

Let’s take a systematic approach as there are a lot of pieces to the puzzle. The Borough staff is looking at various ideas. The Assembly recently chose to let a contract for testing to see what infrastructure costs might be on several sites. Testing is being done on several sites for a new hospital. Allow the staff to look at the data. There may be a chance to have a win-win with infrastructure access to new building lots as well a the hospital. Recently several residents talked to me about the need to upgrade existing sewer and water lines in town. Maybe there is an opportunity to fit some of these parts together in one big project that again would keep costs down for all.

The Assembly recently chose to form a housing committee. Let’s allow it to operate. I believe there will be some good recommendations come from the effort. Finally, the Borough can help but what form should that help take? The ideas need to be publicly aired and discussed. I hope that can happen before a decision is forced.

Do you support raising sales or property taxes?

Sales tax is a regressive tax that impacts those least able to pay. I do not support raising sales tax above 6%. Property taxes are based on assessed value which by state law must be adjusted based on fair market value. I don't support raising property taxes at this time.

What are the biggest conflicts or issues you have right now with the Borough on the way things are going? And how would you suggest we fix those issues?

We have had at least 3 events in the last several years that have divided our community. It is time that we try to bring the community back together. To do that all of us will need to give a little.

I believe boards, commissions and the assembly need to work together and be open minded to reach solutions. With 7 people on the assembly, 1 person alone cannot make changes. We need everyone working toward some common ground.

What is your position on other infrastructure needs in the Borough?

If you have looked at my website, you will see I am a strong supporter of keeping our roads, utilities, harbors and structures in good working order. I also believe we need to expand outdoor recreation opportunities for residents and visitors. Access to water is probably one of the most important needs Borough wide. We need to make this a priority as it benefits our economy in so many different ways.

For the next 5 years we have some of the best opportunities to secure funds through the some 40+ programs generated from the infrastructure legislation. We may have the opportunity to replace existing facilities without increasing local taxes. I strongly support spending some up front money to make plans so that we can compete for these funds. I don't think we will see legislation like this again for a long time. If we have plans and community support, I believe we have a good chance to replace aging facilities and add new ones that support our Borough.

All this takes time and requires some expenditure of general revenues. The payoff later is worth the investment.

What type of new industry do you foresee in the future of the Petersburg Borough?

Good question and I wish I had a magic answer. Earlier on this website I stated that I believe there are a whole series of changes coming to Petersburg. If I’m correct, we really need to diversify the local economy but that will require public and local government acceptance of change. The questions I am asking: “Are we going to be proactive or reactive to change?” And, “how do we go about it?”

Do you support our schools?

The short answer is YES. I think our school board and administration has done an admirable job keeping our schools open and providing for the needs of the kids. Our school enrollment is dropping so the state per student contribution is dropping, resulting in less money to the district. There is no reduction in the number of buildings or maintenance needs. I believe the Borough and the School need to work more closely. Anything we can do to increase understanding of the various problems the two entities are struggling with can help. I fully support more dialogue between the school district and the Assembly.

Do you support a downsized Borough Government and supporting the private sector?

I support a slim, efficient, responsive local government. I believe that if private industry can provide the service at the same or less cost then the service should be contracted out. I also believe in using local hire whenever possible.

In regards to retirements, "is the borough financially solvent"?

I’ve had multiple opportunities to study the borough’s finances. It is financially sound and in good shape. As you probably know, the employees pay into a statewide retirement system and after retirement their annuity comes from that system.

Why do you seek public office?

Our community will undergo change in the next ten years. I don't believe that oil prices will remain at their current levels so I support not adding more programs and staff that we will not be able to sustain. I also support saving what money we can to take care of unforeseen major expenses. Over the past two years we have had at least three major unplanned expenses. Having money in the bank allowed those to be paid. Now the reserves are down substantially. Let's rebuild them while we can. Our fishing based economy will continue to go through structural change based on the changing conditions in the open ocean. We are still struggling to make this a Borough that represents all interests. There is still a question of the stability of the Secure Rural Schools and Payment in Lieu of Taxes funds from the Federal level. Our school enrollment is dropping resulting in fewer funds to the school district. We still have the same number of buildings to maintain with less money. These are but a few of the challenges that I would like to help address.

What changes would you make to the borough budget if elected Mayor?

I believe the staff did a very good job in 2022 presenting a balanced budget to the Assembly. The Assembly made a few tweaks and then passed it. It is a good budget considering the possible reductions that could have come from the State. When the school bond debt was passed to the Borough, I advocated taking it out of reserves rather than increasing taxes. Shutting down the local economy has had a major impact on revenues. Hopefully our businesses will have a good year. With our reserves being depleted it becomes harder and harder to develop a balanced budget that continues to provide current services. Hopefully, the revenue stream in 2022 will be healthy and services can be maintained at current levels. I advocate more of a status quo approach and allow reserves to be rebuilt and some funds being spent to make plans for the future.

With inflation on the rise, the cost of materials and shipping substantially increasing, I advocate a go- slow approach to any increase in staffing and adding of new programs. I do support fair wages for our Borough employees. I believe they are very responsive to keeping our community healthy.

Are you in favor of repealing the senior tax exemption? Why or why not?

I am not in favor of repealing the senior tax exemption. I believe that Petersburg has a wonderful social support infrastructure that helps those in need. A portion of the money comes from seniors. Further, many seniors do a lot of community service including paying for upkeep and maintenance of buildings, providing support services, and helping others in need.

What do you see happening with Borough revenues and expenses over the next few years?

Budgeting and finances is probably one of my strong interests. I think we need to watch closely the financial decisions made by the legislature that will affect the Borough. Taking those funds away could impact the Borough budget up to a million dollars. School funding is another area that we need to watch as there is a direct relationship between the two. It is interesting to me that giving a bigger permanent fund dividend means the money has to come from somewhere and the easiest is to cut funds that now go to municipalities. The result in many instances will be higher fees and higher property or sales tax if folks want to maintain existing services. Could we cut services? Absolutely, but does the public want those services cut?

I believe the Assembly has to be very careful and deliberate in making budget commitments. I support keeping a healthy reserve for unplanned events as for example the recent culvert failure, the fires at the motor pool and the pool. Having a reserve also gives the Assembly time to adjust budgets without having to make major reductions and swings in planned expenditures.

How would you work with the borough assembly to help it operate more efficiently?

It is very important that the Assembly work together with open dialogue. They do not have to agree but there needs to be an environment that is conducive to debate. Once a decision is made I believe each member needs to support that decision publicly and with our State and Federal Congressional delegations.

Provide a brief statement on any current topic of interest to you.

The current Federal legislation on infrastructure and inflation, I believe, provide opportunities for funding some of our aging infrastructure needs as well as to build new ones. Any action the Assembly can take to put our Borough in a position to take advantage has the potential to keep taxes lower, keep monthly charges for services lower and support improving future business opportunities.

PMEA/AFT Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire :



Please return to: Sandy Thompson Wallace, EPIC Chair

Office: 907-562-1183 * Fax: 277-4588 * Email:

2022 Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire

Candidate: Bob Lynn

Office Sought: Mayor

Tell us a little about yourself. Why are you running for office? What qualities distinguish you from other candidates running for this office?

More than 30 years in government, 7 years experience on the Petersburg Assembly, past member of Alaska Municipal League Policy Committee; past member of the Petersburg Borough Charter Commission. I would like to see some change. I believe that to have a community that represents all we need to work with all entities from the school, hospital, businesses and government. We have to be concerned about our economy and the services provided including schools, hospital, day care, housing, etc. I want to be a strong advocate for all aspects of our community. The theme I chose “Working Together for the Future of our Community” represents what I want to foster. Please visit my website for greater detail.

Are you currently, or have you ever been a member of a Union? If so, which one?


With the reduction of revenue from the State, what do you see as the best way to make Petersburg a more self-sufficient community?

I believe we are in an adjustment phase after two years of no growth and strongly opposing views on many issues. I think it is too soon to make a statement that there is a reduction in revenues. Look at all aspects of the economy both at the state and local levels. Housing starts are up; tourism is up; employment is up. Let’s give it through the year to see where we are with revenue, both state wide and locally.

Do you believe that teachers and other public employees salaries should keep up with the cost of living?


Do you support collective bargaining for public employees?


Would you restrict any issues or items from collective bargaining?

Yes, Employers should have the right to change programs and public services as needed. Employers must have the right to deal immediately with emergency situations. Employers need to have the right to deal with shortages in the job market.

When labor contracts are negotiated will you vote to provide the necessary funding to allow implementation of the contracts? Why or why not? What do you see as your role in the bargaining process, if any?

My voting track record over 7 years shows that I have supported funding for wage increases.

What is your position on contracting out (privatizing) services currently performed by public employees and/or School District employees?

If it can be shown that private enterprise can provide the service at a lesser cost I would support privatizing. That said, I would also want to have assurance that the existing affected employees can be accommodated in one way or another.

Do you believe public money should be used to fund private and/or religious schools?

I believe taxes collected should be used for public education. Parents however should have a choice of how they want their children educated and provide funds accordingly.

The question of whether to hold a Constitutional Convention will be on the ballot in 2022. APEA and other public employee groups are concerned about the risks this could pose to our constitutional rights as union members, as well as the impact it could have to our hard-earned retirement benefits being diminished. Alaska is seen by many observers as having a model constitution.

Do you support re-opening the Alaska Constitution? Why or why not? If not, would you join us in advocating against the convention?

A strong no on reopening. Let’s address the question on avocation at a later date as I believe many more highly politicized issues will surface.

Please add any additional comments/thoughts you would like our members to know about you or your focus on issues important to you.

I was the Assembly member that researched and brought forward a proposal to do a wage comparability study for borough employees. While there is no way we can make all the changes that were pointed out in the study, I do support beginning to work on changes. That said, both sides have to be willing to give and take.

Visit my website at for more information.