Hutchison: Citizens must be involved in goverment

My interest in making a bid for public office stems somewhat from the lack of participation by the electorate and the resultant uncontested elections seen on the ballot in the past.

As I result of my interest in uncontested assembly races, I started about a year ago meeting with a group of like minded people interested in reviewing the assembly agenda to gain some answers to a few questions. The group reviewed the agenda beforehand and came together prepared to discuss:

■ Who brought this action forward and why;

■ Who benefited in any way by the action;

■ What would be accomplished by this ordinance;

■ What was the cost to the taxpayer/where did the money come from;

■ Was it included in the annual budgeting process?

On issues that were controversial, or not included in the budgetary process, the group raised questions among themselves; as well as of assembly members and the mayor, and encouraged involvement by the other taxpayers, property owners and interested individuals. It became obvious that efforts needed to be made to include more citizen involvement in the assembly decisions as well as the ordinances brought before the assembly. The recent issue of service area board elections is a case in point.

The current task force regarding zoning along streams is another issue of needed citizen involvement. With more sufficient notice to property owners the work of a task force could likely have been avoided. I understand the difficulties of public involvement on any issue, but just skimming by with minimal legal public notice requirements is not the solution for a transparent governing body. The use of more advanced technology to make assembly meetings more accessible to the inquiring public is gradually becoming more cost effective and needs to be considered by the assembly.

It will be interesting to find out whether there are options to the current solid waste disposal program considering solid waste takes up a considerable part of the borough budget. Should there be a more cost effective and/or environmental safe method for handling our solid waste, a large part of the borough expenditures might be reduced and divert to better uses.

Funds freed up from current borough expenditures could likely be used in any number of ways such as to assist in improving the availability of gas for Kenai Peninsula borough residents. I believe the borough assembly needs to do whatever is necessary to ensure there is not a shortage of gas here on the peninsula. The issue likely needs research and discussion to ferret out the best possible options for everyone.

Because it is necessary from time to time to have an infusion of new ideas with new energies, as well as a selection on the ballot, I believe this vote by the Kenai District for the assembly representative can be just that infusion. A vote for me on October 2 will be the alteration in the direction of the assembly that the peninsula needs. Thanks for taking time to read this statement.

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