Meet First-Time Bethel City Council Candidate Jess Schroeder
KYUK is running a series of profiles on Bethel City Council candidates ahead of the Oct. 5 election. There are six candidates running for four open seats, and each seat is for a two-year term. KYUK municipal reporter Olivia Ebertz spoke to candidate Jess Schroeder about her priorities for the city.
Jess Schroeder has lived in Bethel for nearly five years. In that time, she’s volunteered on the city planning commission and has developed ideas for revitalizing Bethel’s zoning map, which she says is decades-old. She said that she wants to make Bethel friendlier to entrepreneurs and small businesses. She said that her interest in city planning comes from some unique childhood hobbies.
“I knew how to go to the county website and look up, like, how a tax assessment was, and how somebody's property, whether it was zoned agricultural, or commercial, or I don't know. I was a weird kid, I guess,” said Schroeder.
Schroeder has spoken in the public comment section of recent city council meetings. She spoke out against the council’s decision on the Bethel bed and breakfast ordinances. The new rules place restrictions on Bethel bed and breakfasts in residential zones.
“I felt that their decision kind of stymied economic growth. I felt that it penalized our, you know, current residents that had been, you know, tax-paying, licensed, business owners. Productive members of society that were paying into our system; generating revenue,” said Schroeder.
She said that Bethel shouldn’t be restricting businesses, and should instead support them and use them to increase the city’s revenue stream through taxes.
Schroeder also spoke out in a recent city council meeting opposing the city’s timeline for its vaccine mandate. She said that employees should have had more than two weeks between the time the mandate was announced and the time it goes into effect. The mandate holds that by Sept. 27, all city employees must either get the first dose of an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine, get an exemption, or be fired.
Schroeder has been a registered nurse for 15 years and comes to Alaska from Florida as a proud, seventh generation Floridian. She said that after growing up in rural Florida, she knows what it’s like to be from somewhere that "isn’t for everybody." She said that she loves the community in Bethel and sees herself living here long term. That’s why, she said, city development is important to her.
The municipal election will be Oct. 5, and early voting has already begun. Click here to listen to a full interview with Jess Schroeder and here to hear the entire Bethel City Council Candidates Forum.