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Three candidates run for Soldotna council

Posted: September 25, 2012 - 10:33pm  |  Updated: September 26, 2012 - 12:19pm

Three seats are open and three candidates are running in the Soldotna City Council election.

Two of the candidates, John Czarnezki and Dale Bagley are currently serving on the council while the third, Nancy Eoff, is a council newcomer.

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Dale Bagley is running for a three-year term on seat C.

Bagley was first elected to the Soldotna Council in 1994. He was elected to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in 1995 and served two terms as borough Mayor beginning in 1999.

Bagley was re-elected to the Soldotna City Council in 2009 as part of a group running on a platform about the city’s then-contentious memorial park location.

With a new city manager, new mayor and two new council members on their way into city management, Bagley said he wanted to stick around.

“I felt it was important to help with the transition,” he said.

Bagley said during his most recent term on the council he was proud of helping to get the memorial park into its current location overlooking the Kenai River.

“I just think that’s just beautiful,” he said. “We tried to take the best of memorial parks all over the U.S.”

During his next term he said he was looking forward to working with the capital projects budget.

“We have a lot of capital projects for the city of Soldotna but Kyle Kornelis (city engineer) has only been able to do so many of those,” he said. “We’re actually going through the process on the council right now of approving another position. Then we’ll be able to get Kyle some help.”

Bagley also said the city’s general fund needed to be addressed.

“It’s probably way to high — no probably about it,” he said. “We reduced the mill rate last year, reduced the mill rate this year, but I don’t know if that’s going to do it. I’m not sure what the answer is going to be.”

While Bagley acknowledged that having too much money in the city’s general fund was better than the alternative, he said the city only needed to have enough money to cover one year’s operating reserves.

“We have almost $20 million in our general fund for the city,” he said. “Our operating budget for the city is around $8 million.”

Bagley said he was happy to serve on the council.

“It’s nice to know what’s happening with development in the city of Soldotna,” he said. “I think its important to be involved with things, if you don’t get involved then you shouldn’t complain about the process.”

 ***

John Czarnezki is running for a three-year term on seat A. He will replace Nels Anderson.

When Czarnezki was chosen for an exiting council member’s vacant seat in July he said he was looking forward to trying out the role for a few months before deciding if he’d run for re-election. Czarnezki said he enjoyed his short term and thought he would continue in his new role.

“I find it fulfilling. I find it rewarding that I can participate in these kinds of things and help the community grow,” he said. “There weren’t any big surprises in serving the first couple of months and I have the time and energy to commit to it, so I just wanted to continue.”

Previous to his time on the council, Czarnezki served on the city’s planning and zoning committee for nearly a decade and works for the Kenai Peninsula Borough at the River Center.

He said his goal of implementing Soldotna’s Envision 2030 plan, which he helped to craft, has not changed.

“I’ve met with the new city manager and basically expressed my interest and my goals and what I hope to accomplish in the time that I’m going to be on the board,” Czarnezki said. “We talked at length about the comprehensive plan.”

Czarnezki referred to himself as a “process” kind of person.

“I look to the code for guidance in how we operate,” he said. “I’m very much by-the-book. If the code doesn’t work, I’ll change it so that it does work; but I’m all about fairness and equity and accountability so those are the things that — as I make decisions — I’m looking at.”

For his upcoming term, Czarnezki said he was excited to deal with issues around parks and recreation.

“There’s talk about the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge building a new headquarters and building a new pedestrian trail. So, there’s opportunities to connect with the Unity trail,” he said. “There’s also opportunity with the (Department of Transportation) repaving K-Beach road and adding traffic signals. There’s an opportunity to add a signal at the sports center and provide a linkage to the Tsalteshi Trails. So there’s some low-hanging fruit there. I hope we can move to make them happen.”

 ***

Nancy Eoff is running for a partial term on Seat E which ends in October 2013.

Eoff currently holds a seat on the city’s airport commission, was on two of the cemetery boards and helped to design the city’s current management plan, Envision 2030. She said she wanted to continue doing her civic duty.

Eoff, like Czarnezki, said she loved being outdoors and thought the city’s trails and pathways were a good addition to the community.

She said was sure serving on the council would be very different from sitting on smaller boards and commissions so she wasn’t sure exactly how difficult the job would be.

“I’m ready to see a different side of the story than some of the people that I listen too complaining,” she said. “Not all of the information is always out there. My dream would be for every citizen to have a full understanding of every issue the council votes on.”

Eoff said she would advocate for open access to information when elected to the city council.

“I think that everything that can be discussed in public, should be,” she said.

Eoff said she was going to go through a big learning curve for the first couple of months but was looking forward to looking with the city’s budget next year.

“I’ve read through the last two budgets and I honestly don’t understand everything but I’m just so impressed with the how the city manager presented it to the council,” she said. “They just do a great job. Anybody can go online to the city website and read the budgets and it’s pretty interesting.”

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