Beals: Soldotna ready for change, some light industry

Posted: Thursday, February 22, 2001

Michael Beals moved to Soldotna four years ago, after a month-long vacation here caused he and his family to fall in love with the town. After buying property in downtown along the river, Beals and his wife Michelle opened the Timber Wolf Lodge.

Beals came from Austin, Texas, where he was a vice president for marketing and sales for a microprocessor designer.

"I've always wanted to come to Alaska since I was a young boy. It was my dream," Beals said.

A world traveler who's racked up 150,000 frequent flyer miles a year working for a subsidiary of Fujitsu, Beals has spent a number of years in Asia and Europe, which he said gives him an appreciation of life in Soldotna with his family.

Age: 47

Occupation: Lodge

owner and river guide

Family:

Married, wife, Michelle, sons, Michael and Jason

Education: College

Organizations and special interests:

Kenai River Professional Guide Association, Kenai and Soldotna chambers of commerce

Previously held elected office and experience: None

Expected cost of your campaign:

$2,000

What is the best way for voters to reach you? Call, e-mail or stop by

"I don't miss the high-tech life. They're just ordinary folks," he said. "You sit in awe for the first few minutes, but you quickly recognize they're just folks in a different profession."

Beals said it bothers him that people don't want to build in Soldotna because it is difficult to deal with the city.

"The type of mayor I want to be is a people's mayor," he said. "I feel I could bring a bit more structure. It will be a challenge, and I'm up for it."

In an e-mail, Beals, the father of two boys, said he would like to see a youth center built in Soldotna, and plans to work on that project whether he is mayor or not.

"As adults, it's our responsibility to provide more supervised activities for the youth," he said in a written statement.

He said in an earlier interview that one of the first things he wants to do as mayor is bring light industry to town.

Though he has never held an elected office before, Beals feels his work experience will serve him well.

"The job at hand is one I can handle from past experience," he said. "The job of mayor is not a political one; it's one where you bring the voice of the people to the council."

Beals said he waited until the 11th hour to throw his hat into the ring, waiting to see who else was going to run.

"If I felt any of the other candidates were more qualified than me, I wouldn't have run," he said.

He said he would like to bring more change to Soldotna.

"I'm not under the belief that Soldotna should be status quo. I'm not of that mind," he said. "Soldotna has some of the greatest resources in the world, and we have strip-mall type of operations here.

"We can bring a lot more charm and beauty to Soldotna with just a little more effort," he added.

"Take a look at any vacation-driven community, and you'll find that what they've done is try to keep a small town feel with a lot of charm."



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