This is a statement I wrote for the Candidate pages on Sitnews:
Background information, experience and qualifications:
My name is Catherine Brown and I was born and raised in Ketchikan under my maiden name, Cathy Nell. I'm the third generation of my family that has lived here, beginning with my Grandmother, Margaret McCombs (103 years old this past Summer) who homesteaded with my Grandfather in Clover Pass starting in the early 1920's. My husband, Britton, and I have chosen to also raise our five children in the community of Ketchikan, carrying on a wonderful tradition.
I am primarily a stay-at-home mother but I currently volunteer as a birth doula on the side. The majority of my work experience has been in the medical field and I have also volunteered many hours as an EMT for the Pond Reef Fire Department, did a brief stint volunteering with the city department, and volunteered in the Ketchikan General Hospital ER.
I do not have any experience in government itself, aside from exercising my right to vote, and I do not believe that experience necessarily equates with correctness or wisdom. I believe that we need more than experience when it comes to government officials, we need people who are honest and good, who are willing to learn and put forth the hard work required to make good decisions , who can base their decisions on principles of good government, and will act to protect the rights of all individuals in the borough even if to do so would be unpopular. That is the difference between a politician and a statesman and I consider myself the latter.
That said, I do have over a decade of leadership experience (at the age of 29) in various positions within my religion, both on the local and regional level, as well as experience as an online Administrator for the Preeclampsia Foundation. I've learned a myriad of valuable lessons from each and every experience and always seek to apply learning to every aspect of my life.
I have applied myself to many different areas of study and thus consider myself a "jack of all trades; master of none." I am an autodidact, always learning and studying new things of interest in-depth. For approximately 5 years now both my husband and I have been studying freedom, government, and politics as seen by those who created the most free country known in the world to date. These men, that we call the American Founding Fathers, were inspired, intelligent, good, and well-learned men who were themselves students of history, of government, and of human nature. This gave them the unique ability to see what was done in the past, what worked and what didn't, and to be able to create a system by which both the frailties of government and of men could be checked and bound in such a way as to best preserve the freedom of all people within our country.
We do not need to reinvent the wheel, starting over or thinking of new ways to solve problems --the work has already been done for us. Most every problem we have today can be solved by the principles of good government taught by these founders of our nation. As we study their writings, debates, and the founding documents they created, we can identify key principles they considered truths. And when understood, those principles can be applied to all levels of government. I believe good government is based upon good principles and seek to act accordingly.
Statement regarding important issues facing the community and what I'd like to achieve if elected:
I believe that there are two big issues facing our community at this time and they both are very interconnected. The first is economic and the second relates to the proper role of government. What I seek to achieve is based upon my view of the proper role of government but applies equally to the economic issues we face.
The economy is in a "recession" and communities, states, and the nation as a whole are feeling the effects of that. Ketchikan seems to be doing well compared to many, but we are by no means isolated from it. We are at risk of losing some State and Federal funding that we rely upon, we carry a large debt, and our tax burden is already high. Economists may now be saying that the recession has ended, but these were the very same economists who said that the housing market wouldn't crash and that there wouldn't be a recession to begin with. How much faith are we going to place in their judgement? They may be right --I hope they are-- but I believe firmly that we need to plan for the worst and hope for the best.
What do I take that to mean? I believe we need to cut the budget wherever possible now. I do not believe that we should make sudden and drastic changes immediately since that tends to result in chaos and poor decisions, but we definitely need to limit new spending to actual needs and make the best of those dollars we are spending. We then need to be methodical and deliberate as we move forward...making well-planned and prioritized changes slowly, ensuring we are always acting on principle and staying within the bounds of the government's appropriate role.
I'm getting asked continually what the Borough can do to encourage, promote, support or advance various local industries or businesses. I do not think it is the proper role of government to support or fund business. It is the proper role of government to get out of its way. The appropriate government incentives are to deregulate and lower taxes. What better incentive is there than to allow the industrious to keep the fruits of their labors? This was a right safeguarded by our constitution's original intent as well as the constitution of the State of Alaska in very word. If the people of Ketchikan can see and keep the rewards of their labors, they will work harder, produce more and/or a higher quality, then business owners will hire more staff, and all will spend more in turn. That money will circulate through every level of Ketchikan's economy. It is a stimulus from the bottom up and that is the kind of stimulus that will help our economy to not only survive but to thrive.
The reason I believe that the proper role of government is a second, but equal (if not greater) issue is that we are on the road to ever-increasing big government with the attendant increase in taxation and in loss of personal freedoms. This country was founded on the principles of small government for and by the people whose main purpose is the protection of rights. Big government and it's control upon the people was very much what the founding fathers were fighting against. In fact, many of our well-known statesmen nearly voted down the constitution because they were worried the government it created was too big even at that time. What would they say now that our government is trying to support us and even protect us from ourselves? The more we stray fro m the correct principles of government the founders taught, the more we lose control of our rights and that is a dangerous, slippery slope.
One of the questions at the Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce candidate forum was "What is the Borough's greatest asset?" I had written down the same answer given by many others there, that it was "the people." It is their drive, their labors, their ingenuity that is the driving force of Ketchikan and what makes Ketchikan unique. In retrospect, I'm glad that question wasn't asked because while there is truth in that statement, the more I have thought about it, I've realized that the premise of the question is wrong when answered in that way. The people aren't an asset that belongs to the government! The government is (or should be) an asset of the people, protecting their rights so that they are able to focus on other means of productivity and daily life as we know it. If we see ourselves as an asset to the government, it indicates that the balance of power has changed and should awaken us to a sense of how far it has strayed from its true purpose and what we risk in continuing down that path.
I realize that we see this as a problem mostly on a state and federal level, but it is creeping into all levels of government and thinking and exists within our community. As we seek to protect ourselves from the economic crisis around us and move forward, where is that going to take our government? I can see a real danger in front of us of following suit with higher levels of government if we aren't acting based upon principle. I believe we are in a crossroads. Do we follow the "new" changes being made at federal levels and do we subscribe to the beliefs implied therein? Or are we going to follow the principles of government that safeguarded our freedoms from the beginning and do we share the beliefs of our Founding Fathers? Now is a time to know not only how specific laws will affect us and future generations, but also what the principles and meanings behind them are and if we agree with them. We must be educated and act wisely for our freedoms and our future hang in the balance.
Please join with me to protect what we have and regain what we've lost. Freedom is our heritage and if we are to keep it, we must understand the principles upon which it was achieved. It isn't enough simply to know them, we must also act upon them.