The Soldotna Chamber of Commerce is hosting the Soldotna City Council Candidate Forum at noon today at the Soldotna Sports Center.
Five candidates filed for the three council seats up for election. Dave Carey and Meggean Bos are running for Seat B’s 1-year term. Paul Whitney and Keith Baxter are looking to fill Seat E’s 3-year term. Incumbent Regina Daniels is running unopposed for Seat D.
Dave Carey, retired government teacher, has previously served as a Soldotna council member, Soldotna mayor and Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor. Carey said he’s running for public office so he can bring up municipal issues, primarily, the economics of Soldotna and its multi-million dollar surplus.
“By bringing up the issues of the amount of funds available, it then allows you to talk realistically about how money should be spent,” Carey said. “To me sewer and roads certainly are a major part of that.”
Along with bringing up issues, Carey said he is also running because residents have told him they didn’t feel that council listened to them when they raised certain issues.
Carey supports moving ahead with the teen center that will be funded by a grant from Boys and Girls Club for the first three years. He wants to encourage buying local. Evaluating fees and regulations and setting up an incentive to bring businesses into vacant buildings in the city are other topics he would like to discuss, if elected.
He said he’s in a good position to be more available than other people and citizens find it very easy to talk to him about issues.
Bos, an Alaska resident of seven years, said she is seeking election to Seat B because she wants to be involved with the decision making process. The Soldotna High School teacher currently serves on the Planning and Zoning Commission.
She said a one-year term “realistically” allows for time to “set a foundation for the future.” Bos supports responsible city ordinances and wants to keep property tax low.
“I’m very realistic, and I understand we have to pay for things,” Bos said. “At the same time I’m living here, and I don’t want my property taxes to go up.”
As a teacher, she said teens tell her they would like a safe place to hang out with their friends. Her desire is to see the teen center open within the next year.
The city’s priority needs to be what is best for citizens, she said. With a variety of residents from teens to business owners to retirees, each group has various needs. She said, if elected, she will “take into account the different voices in our community.”
As a 25-year resident of the city of Soldotna and retiree, Whitney is running for Seat E because he has the desire to commit more time to helping the city and representing Soldotna residents.
Similar to Carey, Whitney also wants to look at Soldotna’s economy.
“As far as the economic base, we need to bring in more businesses to make sure that our sales tax stays at a high level, meaning people need to come here and … purchase items,” Whitney said.
He said new businesses would bring in more jobs and hopefully keep young people in the area.
Whitney also wants to explore improving roads, bicycle trails and sidewalks as well as “making (Soldotna) better than what it already is.”
Currently, Whitney serves on the Planning and Zoning Commission and served on the Fairbanks City Council in the 1980s.
Baxter, who grew up in Soldotna, said he’s “always been interested in politics” and now, as a homeowner and parent of kids in public schools, it makes sense for him to run for office.
He said there are projects in place that he is interested in seeing move forward, like the Sports Center improvements and the teen center.
Baxter would also like the city be a part of discussions about salmon and fisheries issues.
“It’s not a city issue, but it really affects the city,” Baxter said. “It seems like it would make sense that the city would have a voice in that conversation.”
The Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council employee said he doesn’t feel like he’s at a great disadvantage having not held an elected position.
“It’s been a real benefit to me in one way because I feel like people of all different opinions an perspectives have been comfortable talking to me about their concerns and their points of view,” Baxter said.
Daniels has been a Soldotna council member since 2010. She has lived in Alaska for 39 years and works at Davis Block and Concrete. Daniels was unavailable for additional comment.
Soldotna municipal election is Oct. 1. Soldotna City Hall is the city’s polling site located at 177 N. Birch St.
Kaylee Osowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.