Soldotna Vice Mayor Jim Stogsdill wants to set the record straight: He does not want to be the permanent mayor.
"I believe I'm better off if I can voice my opinion," he said. "I kind of like being vice mayor; I can do all the mayor things, but I can also vote, which the mayor can't. It's a nice position to be in."
In Soldotna's form of government, the mayor sets the agenda and may only vote in case of a tie. The one true piece of power the mayor has is the veto, which is rarely used.
"There isn't any real authority or power to run the town," Stogsdill said. "That's the city manager's job, and the council oversees him."
Soon after then-mayor Ken Lancaster was elected to the state House in November, speculation arose over Stogsdill's intent. There were even rumors that he would be drafted in a write-in campaign.
"A number of people in town asked me to run just because I've been around so long," he said. "Then I heard people say they were going to write my name in. It's flattering, but it's hard for me to tell people they'll be wasting their time voting for me."
Stogsdill said the next mayor will have a hard time filling Lancaster's shoes.
"He's been very active. More active than any other mayor's ever been," he said. "And this is a weak mayor form of government."
Stogsdill, a retired Alaska State Trooper, is an avid sports fisher and guide. He said being mayor would interfere with his avocation.
"I knew that in the summer I won't be around much," he said. "Sometimes it's all I can do to make council meetings."
There are other aspects of the mayor's position that Stogsdill doesn't necessarily enjoy.
"What I don't like is the continual requirement of representing the city at all of these boards and commissions and things that occur all over the place," he said. "In the summertime, with my guide business, I just don't have time."
He does acknowledge the lure of being the person sitting in the big chair.
"I think everyone wants to be a mayor of a town sometimes."
Stogsdill's fate as vice mayor could be up in the air when the new mayor is seated.
"Whoever the mayor is, they may not want me as vice mayor," he said.
The mayor appoints the vice mayor from year to year, but the selection has to be approved by the council. In Soldotna, the vice mayor's position has often gone to the council member with the most tenure, but that is not set out in code.
Stogsdill said he knows most of the candidates running for mayor, but would not express a preference.
He did predict there would be a run-off election, since a winner cannot be named unless that person receives 40 percent of the vote. And with five candidates on the slate, the odds of that might be slim.
In which case, Stogsdill may occupy the mayor's chair a little longer.
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