The Kenai City Council could save itself and residents a little time when it comes to filling the council seat left vacant by the resignation of Duane Bannock.
Instead of requesting and reviewing applications from interested parties, the council should appoint the person who was the next highest vote-getter in last fall's election: Ozzie Osborne.
Osborne received 410 votes, behind incumbents Linda Swarner with 624 and Bannock with 502.
In fact, that old description of "always the bridesmaid, never the bride" could apply to Osborne. He's run in the last four council elections and lost the last four elections.
His persistence is admirable.
But Osborne has more than persistence going for him. He's no stranger to the community or to city government. He served on the Kenai Planning Commission from 1982-1988 and began another stint on the commission in 2001. He's involved in community organizations, including Boy Scouts, the Kenai Elks Lodge and the Pioneers of Alaska.
He's lived in Kenai for 25 years and raised his family here. Most of his children still live in the area.
Best of all, Osborne shows up to participate at council meetings as an interested citizen.
During the last election, Osborne's answers in interviews and candidate questionnaires showed a good grasp of issues of importance. A sample of his views include:
On his role as a council member: If elected, Osborne said he would talk to residents and make himself available to hear their wishes so he wouldn't have to guess about what they want for the city. Osborne also encouraged more people to participate in council meetings, so elected officials would know what they are thinking.
On the budget: "Without cutting any services I believe that the mill rate is going to have to be raised to meet the budget deficit. The city of Kenai has fine police and fire departments, and I do not think that anyone would like to cut either budget. The city has road maintenance, such as snow removal on the side roads, and library service which is used by more than just the citizens of Kenai. ..."
On the city and economic development: "The city needs to keep abreast of the new businesses coming to and desiring to locate in this area. The city administration needs to expedite the approval of building permits ... that are important to the starting of or enlarging business in the city of Kenai."
On cooperation between Kenai and Soldotna: "Kenai and Soldotna need to do the best that they can for the residents of their own cities and that will be a help to the growth of both cities."
On the future: "If we expect our children to continue living here we need to get with the program and encourage business development in this area."
Osborne's concern for his community is obvious -- "I love living in Kenai, and I will continue to live here for a long time," he wrote during the last election campaign.
We believe Osborne would do right by the citizens of Kenai if appointed to the council. He's straightforward in his dealings and has proven his commitment to the city.
Now, council members should do right by Osborne and give him the chance to serve in a new capacity -- as the newest member of the Kenai City Council.
By the way, congratulations and thanks to Kenai City Council member Duane Bannock as he and his family leave Kenai for new adventures in Anchorage. Bannock, who was first elected to the council in 1993, has been named director of the Division of Motor Vehicles by Gov. Frank Murkowski. His last council meeting was Wednesday. His dedication and work on the council and in other areas of the community has been greatly appreciated and will be missed. We wish him all the best as he attempts to "change the world" at DMV.
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