In Sarah Palin History Tour: Charting Her Course, I covered the buildings and spaces that charted the course of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s life during her early years. I visited these places during a trip to Alaska from August 21st to August 30, 2013. This part of the tour focuses on Wasilla City Hall, the Public Library and the Curtis Menard Sports Center which are physical testimonies to Sarah Palin’s terms as City Councilwoman and Mayor.
As seen on August 23, 2013, Wasilla’s City Hall is where Sarah Palin served in her first two elective offices: City Councilwoman and Mayor. Let’s go inside…
Bonnie, who works for the City of Wasilla guided me into the the City Council Chamber. As Councilwoman, Sarah Palin sat in Seat E, which is just to the right of the Alaska State Flag and in front of the wooden enclosure next to the flag. In this simple room, Sarah Palin built, forged and honed her leadership skills.
Seat E is the second seat from the left.
- Focused on reducing property taxes and redefining the city government’s role.
- Supported 2% sales tax with a corresponding reduction in property taxes. The sales tax was fairer and more optional, and kept reduced government control over what Wasilla residents owned.
- Opposed master-planned community type zoning regulations and favored retaining a do-it-yourself approach.
- Opposed development plan that would have required residents of new sub-divisions to pay for weekly garbage removal – by a company owned by city council member Nick Carney.
- Voted against mayoral pay raise.
- Personally read, reviewed, and understood every line item in city budgets, every word of proposed regulations, and ordinances, and took time to know her constituents’ concerns.
- Took constituent calls to her home at all hours of the night, including holidays and weekends.
Gov. Palin wrote about her terms as Councilwoman in Going Rogue, pages 64 through 68. See Wasilla City Council 1992 – 1996 for complete details on Sarah Palin’s accomplishments as a Wasilla City Councilwoman
Hall of Awards
As Wasilla’s Mayor, Sarah Palin first put her Transformational Leadership skills to the test. Having served six years as a legislator, she would serve another six as an executive. Some of Sarah Palin’s key accomplishments as Mayor include:
Reagan Conservatism/Tax Reduction:
- Cut taxes
- Eliminated small-business inventory taxes
- Eliminated property taxes
- Eliminated business license renewal fees
- Cut the real estate property tax mil levy during each year in office
- Did not support proposed city-wide smoking ban
- Built and paved roads
- Extended water and sewer lines
- Paved runway at Wasilla Municipal Airport
- City bond financed by half-cent sales tax to build Curtis Menard Jr. Multi-Use Sports Center
Wasilla became a major commercial center under Mayor Palin. Established small businesses grew, and major national chains opened their doors in Wasilla. See Wasilla Mayor 1996 – 2002 for complete details on Sarah Palin’s Mayoral accomplishments.
Budget preparation and financial reporting are key executive skills and Sarah Palin started honing them during her tenure as a Councilwoman.
When Sarah Palin was Mayor, Wasilla’s Finance Department earned multiple Awards from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada. Behind the Council Chamber and running toward the rear of the building is a corridor. These awards line the walls of that corridor.
This set of photos from 2000 to 2002 documents the awards conferred by GOFA on the City of Wasilla for Budget Preparation and Financial Reporting.
The Budget Preparation Award reads:
The Certificate of Recognition for Budget Preparation is presented by the Government Finance Officers Association to those individuals who have been instrumental in their government unit achieving a Distinguished Budget Presentation Award. The Distinguished Budget Presentation Award, which is the highest award in governmental budgeting, is presented to those governmental units whose budgets are judged to adhere to program standards.
The Financial Reporting Award reads:
The Award of Financial Reporting Achievement is presented by the Government Finance Officers Association to those individuals who have been instrumental in their government unit achieving a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting. A Certificate of Achievement is presented to those governmental units whose annual financial reports are judged to adhere to program standards and represents the highest award in government financial reporting.
Sarah Palin Leaves Her Mark
A small meeting / conference room is to the right of the Council Chamber. The walls of this room are lined with pictures of the people who served on the Wasilla City Council and as Mayor over the years.
Wasilla City Council, 1999 – when Sarah Palin was a Councilwoman.
Another photo of Wasilla’s Mayors.
This photo shows Sarah Palin taking an aerial tour of Wasilla in her official Mayoral capacity.
This Ford Expedition as seen on August 26, 2013 was put in service when Sarah Palin was Wasilla’s Mayor. The current Mayor – Verne Rupright – uses this vehicle today.
Wasilla Public Library
The Wasilla Public Library as seen August 24, 2013 gained notoriety when Sarah Palin was falsely accused of banning books while Mayor. Both the City of Wasilla and the non-profit Friends of Wasilla Library have said the book banning rumor is patently false, but Sarah Palin’s enemies continue to perpetuate the falsehood.
The City of Wasilla intends to replace the existing library building at 391 Main Street with a new one to be built at the corner of Swanson Ave. and Crusey Street adjacent to the Wasilla Middle School.
“The new library will provide useful amenities to better serve the community including multi-purpose rooms, small study rooms for more focused work and small group collaboration, a teen area, designated story time space, a business center, and computers for public use. If funding is secured, the new building could be opened in early 2016.”
As with other buildings in Sarah Palin’s life, the existing library will be re-purposed if not demolished. It was during her term as Mayor, that the Palins sold their house on Wasilla Lake and moved into their current house on Lake Lucille. The second building housing Todd’s workshop, Sarah’s Fox studio and an apartment would not be built until late 2009 and completed in early 2010.
Curtis Menard Multi-Use Sports Complex
The Curtis Menard, Jr. Multi-Use Sports Center, as seen August 26, 2013 was financed by a City Bond on a half-cent sales tax, and as Gov. Palin wrote in Going Rogue, this building had been only a dream for decades.