Wasilla mayor: Palin a quick study
September 3, 2008
WASILLA, Alaska — Dianne Keller, who succeeded Sarah Palin as mayor of this small city, proclaimed Tuesday afternoon that “the process for running the city of Wasilla is probably much like the process for running our country.”
That process, Keller told reporters, “is that you bring in advisers that you think are going to help you do what you need to do, what you’ve been elected to do. And I anticipate that anybody that gets elected will have that circle of advisers to assist them to do their duties.”
And she suggested that Palin’s six years at the helm of Wasilla, population 7,000, combined with her 20 months as governor of Alaska leave her better equipped to handle the executive branch than her GOP running mate, John McCain, or his Democratic competitors Barack Obama and Joe Biden, all of whom are U.S. senators.
“My personal opinion is that Sarah Palin has more executive experience than anybody on the ticket,” said Keller. “She was the mayor for six years, and as I shared with you it is a strong mayor form of government, which means you are the mayor for the city. You do make decisions on a day-to-day basis. She has been the governor for about 1½ to two years and I think that Sarah Palin is a very articulate individual. I think she shares the values that I share. And I think that she is a very quick study.”
Keller also said no one from the McCain campaign had called her to ask about Palin. That echoes what the city clerk, Kristie Smithers, told the local Frontiersman newspaper Monday, when she said no one had come to her office seeking documents about Palin since the 2006 governor’s race.
Keller had called the Tuesday news conference in a city park near a swing set to handle what she said was a deluge of media requests that has strained the city’s resources and tested the city’s collective patience.
She began by instructing the 15 or so assembled journalists to “follow my directions and write my name down. There’s another lady that lives in the city of Wasilla with the same name, and I know that she doesn’t want your phone calls.”
Keller was a member of the city council when Palin was mayor, and she said none of the current city council members served with Palin. She said she didn’t know when the city moved to a strong mayor form of government, when it increased its sales tax to pay for a sports complex or what its precise budget is.
She did, however, stress that the city has a “healthy budget.”
As such, Keller said she would “not be returning long-distance phone calls as we did not anticipate this cost in our budget, and I am going to keep our budget as we set it.”