The Soldotna City Council had only to sit through one session without former member Kurt Olsen, who vacated his seat Jan. 9 to work with Sen. John Torgerson's staff. In Wednesday's meeting, the council voted unanimously to name former Kenai Peninsula Borough Planning Director Lisa Parker in Olsen's position.
Parker was happy to be named to the council and immediately took an active role in city business, accepting a nomination from council member Sharon Moock to be the liaison to the cemetery task force.
"I'll be happy to represent the council," Parker said. "I just believe in helping my community."
Three candidates responded to solicitation for letters of interest in the council seat. Scott McLane and John Smallwood also submitted their names for acceptance. Only McLane offered commentary for the council's consideration.
"I am very interested in working for the city of Soldotna," McLane said nervously into the microphone.
Smallwood declined the chance to speak to the council, but later said much of the council membership came as a result of choosing between the haves and the have-nots.
"The whole thing is elitist," he said. "The only good one of them is (Mayor David) Carey."
Parker, who currently works as community relations coordinator for Agrium, said she has been eager to get back into community government since leaving her four-year stint as the borough's planning director in 1999.
"This is something I have always been interested in since I left the borough," she said.
In the interest letter she sent to the council, she pledged to work diligently for the city.
"As a lifelong Alaskan, I strongly believe in community and public service," Parker's letter said. "I am dedicated as well as committed to working on behalf of the residents to maintain the quality of life within the city we all enjoy."
A closed-ballot process was used to elect the new council member, and all five sitting council members were present. A minimum of three votes was necessary to name a winner. Parker received five.
Following the vote, Parker was sworn in to her position by Carey and immediately took her seat. She will hold the seat until November's election, when the term to which Olsen was originally elected will end.
In other news from Wednesday's meeting:
The council accepted a grant from the Alaska Highway Safety Office and the Alaska State Troopers to support increased seat belt use rates. The grant, in the amount of $15,000, will be used by the Soldotna Police Department to reimburse overtime for traffic enforcement with an emphasis on identifying seat belt and child restraint violations.
The council adopted an ordinance for Phase 1 of improvements to the Soldotna Sports Center in the combined amount of $133,191.
The council approved liquor license renewals for China Sea Restaurant, Buckets, Pizza Pete's and The Timber Wolf.
A resolution was adopted to award two separate contracts, totaling $22,512, for sewage relocation projects in preparation for anticipated construction of the Sterling Highway bridge. Both contracts will go to McLane Consulting Group, the first in the amount of $15,940 for design of utility relocation on the highway. The second contract for $6,572 will go for design of sewer main replacement on Riverside Drive.
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