John Czarnezki has some big ideas for the City of Soldotna.
With the flip of a coin the newest Soldotna City Council member moved from a nearly decade-long position on the city’s planning and zoning commission into his new seat.
He joked about that coin toss when discussing his ideas for the city.
“I’m researching different ways for the council to make a decision in the case of a deadlock for appointments of new council members,” he said. “That coin toss didn’t do it for me. What I’ve found is some communities do (flip a coin) but it’s written into their code, so it offers some legitimacy to the process.”
He said he’d sponsor an ordinance or resolution to legitimize the process.
While Czarnezki’s term is just a partial one, he said he planned to used the next few months to see if the position was a good fit before deciding to run for a full three-year term.
“It’s an opportunity to influence the direction of the city and having just finished with the planning and zoning plan Envision 2030, it’s an opportunity to implement some of the portions of that plan, Czarnezki said.
When not helping to run the city, Czarnezki works for the Kenai Peninsula Borough at the River Center as a resource planner.
“Really what it is, is a lot of environmental planning and permitting,” he said.
Czarnezki, 48, said he got that passion for resource management as an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He moved on to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to get his masters in urban planning.
“ I enjoyed the bigger pictures, seeing how all the parts and pieces fit together,” he said.
After working for the University of Wisconsin for five years, Czarnezki said he was looking for a change and wound up in Alaska after touring the peninsula and loving it.
While he came for the change of pace, Czarnezki said he stayed in Soldotna for the people.
“It’s a very friendly community. People are open and willing to help,” he said. “They’ve been in the newcomers shoes and they realize how difficult it can be.”
During his time living and working in Soldotna, Czarnezki has come across a number of things like updating the city’s sign and subdivision codes that he’s excited to help change if he stays on the council.
Czarnezki said there were other “big picture” things he was interested in as well.
“Like community connectivity between neighborhoods and schools and recreation areas in our neighborhoods,” he said. “We heard quite a bit from the public (during planning and zoning meetings) that they want to see us make this community more pedestrian. I would love to see more trails connecting where people live and our areas of recreation.”
Rashah McChesney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.