Council member throws hat into the ring

Posted: Tuesday, January 16, 2001

The race to replace Rep. Ken Lancaster as Soldotna mayor has begun.

Longtime resident and current Soldotna City Council member David Carey was the first to throw his hat into the ring, shortly after the filing period opened Friday.

"I'd like to see things continue in the direction they've been going," said Carey, a teacher at Skyview High School.

Caught on Monday, just before he went to city hall to sign up, was former mayor and council member A. Kearlee Wright.

"I plan to file. It's been in the back of my mind for a great number of years," he said.

Wright, a homesteader, was mayor for about one year between 1965 and 1966, and a council member from 1989 to 1995.

"I'm not in it for any change. I'm not dissatisfied," he said. "I feel Soldotna is a great place for families, and I would just like to maintain that and encourage it."

Wright, owner of the Best Western King Salmon Motel in Soldotna, raised four children here, he said.

"I've got good roots here," he said. "I don't have any axes to grind."

Regarding Carey's candidacy, Wright did not hesitate to offer an endorsement.

"He'd be a good one. I could support him in a minute," Wright said.

Carey reciprocated, saying Wright was an "excellent person," who would be good in the job.

Carey said his first priority would be trying to bring a North Slope natural gas pipeline spur to the Kenai Peninsula.

"Developing a gas line to the peninsula is of great importance," he said. "I know there have been efforts by many people, and I'd like to see that continue."

Closer to home, Carey said moving forward with improvements to the city's sewage treatment plant is high on his list. He also would like to begin talks with the city of Kenai about a partnership to build a major sewage treatment plant to serve both cities.

"Our needs are much larger than either city has," he said.

A 40-year resident of Soldotna, Carey is in his first term on the city council, in his seventh term on the Homer Electric Association Board and is a past Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly member.

"I'd just like to take a step up in my involvement, if the people of Soldotna are interested," he said.

The hot topic in the city of Soldotna these days is the possible -- some would say probable -- expansion in the Soldotna Sports Center-Centennial Park area.

Carey said he personally would like to see the initial expansion take the shape of improvements to the softball and Little League fields and road paving.

"We should start there, and then as a second step, talk about what to do at the sports center," he said, explaining that an expansion or a new structure would require a bond issue or a major corporate donation.

"It costs a lot less money to do dust control than build a field house."

Carey also has served on the Central Emergency Services service area boards and the college council. He is a graduate of Kenai Central High School.

"I've lived here since fourth grade, and it would be a great honor to serve as Soldotna mayor," he said. "It will be fun to run for mayor."

The filing period for the vacant mayor's office is open until Jan. 26. The special election will be held Feb. 27, and the new mayor will be sworn in, barring a runoff, March 14.

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