Serving in an elected position in the Kenai Peninsula Borough is not glamorous or exciting. Indeed, many of the positions on the various service areas remain vacant or have only one person on the ballot. This has led to discussions by some to eliminate voting for services area seats and give the power to the Borough Mayor to appoint all of the service areas (see KPB ordinance 2012-07). Some people have complained that the service area boards have no say in the operation of the service area and serve only as advisors to the administration. This view was solidified in late 2010 and early 2011 when the language that formed the Anchor Point Fire and Emergency Service Area, approved and voted on by the people over 25 years ago, was changed to remove the limited autonomy that it had once enjoyed and was relegated to the advisory role mandated by the Administration and the Assembly. I believe the elected service area boards should remain and have the ability to manage their organizations as independently as possible.
This type of big brother or government knows best attitude has also been demonstrated in a series of progressive steps initially directed at protecting fish habitat on portions of the Kenai River in 1996. These regulations that, according to the assembly, “may unduly restrict development rights” were expanded on in 2000 by applying the one size fits all approach to an additional 10 tributaries of the Kenai River and 14 other streams. Fearing that they had not regulated nearly enough of the property owners in the borough or sent enough traffic into the Kenai River Center for permits, last year the assembly decided to apply these Kenai River standards to “all anadromous waterbodies within the municipal boundaries of the Kenai Peninsula Borough”.
I am as concerned as anyone in protecting fish habitat. My livelihood depends on strong returns as our business caters to sport and commercial fishermen throughout the year. But concern cannot win out over common sense. In addition to my concern over applying the same standards to Caribou Lake and Fox Creek that were designed for the Kenai River in 1996, I also refuse to support the expansion of the Borough government into a local chapter of the Department of Environmental Conservation or the Environmental Protection Agency. Once we decide that this is a legitimate purpose for our Borough government there will be no end to the expansion. An air quality standard for your wood burning stove to combat global climate change comes to mind.
If you want a Borough Assembly person that is interested in expanding the role of the Borough, that will tell you what you can do with your property and then increase the taxes and fees they charge you on that property, then I don’t want your vote. I you want somebody that will stand up for the property owner and the tax payer, someone who thinks the Borough should focus on providing quality schools, waste management, and giving power back to the people, then vote for Jesse Clutts on October 2nd.