Meet First-Time Bethel City Council Candidate Jared Karr
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 Jared Karr about his priorities for the city.
Jared Karr arrived in Bethel as a police officer nearly 25 years ago, and then left the police force to become an attorney. He has worked in Bethel as a prosecutor and a defense attorney, and is a former attorney for Bethel residents Dan and Dawn Hackney. The Hackneys own a bed and breakfast that the city shut down for being out of compliance with municipal code. Jared Karr represented the Hackneys in litigation against the City of Bethel before another attorney took over the case. Karr is also a local business owner: he co-owns marijuana store Kusko Kush and Kusko Coffee and Cream, the coffee stand located inside the AC grocery store.
Karr outlined issues that he thinks the city is facing during his interview on "Coffee at KYUK." Karr said that the primary problem facing the city is that there aren’t enough “basic services'' for its residents, like roads and cost effective water and sewer. Karr opposes adding extra services, like a gymnasium at the Yukon Kuskokwim Fitness Center, until Bethel has fulfilled its residents’ basic needs. So how does Karr propose paying for them?
“I think there's a lot of meat still left on the bone with just the regulations and taxes that the City of Bethel has passed. And so just enforcing the laws that are on the books in order to get the revenue that is due to the city into the city's coffers. And then looking at other revenue streams,” said Karr.
Karr said that one of those revenue streams could be accessed through the city renting out its properties. He said that if elected, he would work towards creating better tax enforcement for the municipality.
For two years, Karr sat on the Public Safety and Transportation Commission. Karr said that one reason he left the commission is that he felt unheard by the city council. If elected to city council, he intends to deepen the relationship between city council and the committees and commissions
“The committees and commissions need to be tasked by the city council to do their research to look into different programs. And then when the committees and commissions get that information and pass it up to the city council, the city council needs to listen to that. Because in the committees and commissions they can go much more in depth into different areas,” said Karr.
Karr said that he’s qualified for public service as a city council candidate because of his willingness to engage with constituents. Recently, Karr himself has engaged with the council as a constituent. In the most recent regular meeting he spoke out against the City of Bethel’s timeline for its new vaccine policy. He said that employees should have had more time between the announcement and when the mandate took effect.