Carey era under way in Soldotna

Posted: Monday, April 16, 2001

The David Carey era began in Soldotna on Wednesday night when the lifelong Soldotna resident was sworn in as mayor by City Clerk Patricia Burdick.

Carey became the city's 16th mayor three months and two elections after Rep. Ken Lancaster, R-Soldotna, resigned to take office in Juneau.

Vice Mayor Jim Stogsdill, who was reappointed to that position by Carey, kept the mayor's chair warm since Lancaster's departure.

Carey will serve the last year and a half of Lancaster's term. The seat will be up for election in October 2002.

Carey was the top vote getter during the Feb. 27 special election, but since he did not have more than 40 percent of the vote, he was forced into a March 27 runoff with A. Kearlee Wright. He also had the most votes after the polls closed that day, but had to wait until absentee ballots were counted April 2 to be declared the winner.

Since Carey was a sitting city council member, his seat will have to be filled to bring the council up to full strength. That will be done by appointment, and interested applicants must throw their hats into the ring by 5 p.m. Friday, according to Burdick.

The applicants will then be asked to make a pitch to the council on April 25 at 5:30 p.m., just before the council's next regular meeting.

Stogsdill asked that the presentations be made sometime before the appointment.

"I've been on both sides of appointing and being appointed," he said. "Listening to a few presentations and going into voting is difficult for us and those who are waiting."

City Manager Tom Boedeker said hearing presentations earlier and voting later is fine, as long as the council members do not discuss the candidates among themselves in the interim.

Council member Joyce Cox endorsed the idea, saying they could call back any candidate for more questions during the council meeting proper.

The successful candidate, who just needs a simple majority of council votes, will then be asked to join the council. But if two candidates are tied, the council will vote again, up to four times. If they are still tied, Burdick will flip a coin.

A tie could happen with two candidates, even though there is an odd number of council members since council member Jane Stein will be in Washington, D.C., April 25. As mayor, Carey does not vote.

Stein plans to attend both the 5:30 p.m. presentations and the 7:30 p.m. council meeting by telephone, but if there are connection problems and she cannot participate, there will be an even number of council members voting, creating the possibility of a tie vote.

"It's happened in the past," Burdick said.

The appointed council member only will serve until October, when the seat will be put before the electorate so the last two years of Carey's term can be filled.

After he took the mayor's gavel in hand, Carey made some immediate changes to council procedure. He did away with roll call votes in some instances and replaced it with requests for unanimous consent.

"I'll ask two times if is are any objection to unanimous consent," he said.

If there are any objections, he will ask for a roll call vote.

Carey also held out the olive branch of peace, so to speak, to the city of Kenai. While there is no active animosity between the cities, Carey said the two councils should spend more time together, discussing mutually beneficial topics, such as a combined sewage treatment plant.

"I'd like to meet with the city of Kenai to further develop good relations," Carey said. "We can talk about legislative cooperation, waste water treatment and perhaps seeking to bring the Arctic Winter Games to our communities in 2006."

Council member Steve Horn said it was a good idea and suggested putting discussion about a civic center on the agenda.

Stogsdill agreed.

"I think it's a good idea to meet with the city of Kenai two or three times a year," he said. "I've yet to see a conflict with any Kenai council member, and the talk about us being at odds is overstated.

"I've gotten along with each and every one of them," he added. "Folks think we hardly speak, but we're good friends."

With the council's approval, Carey said he will approach the city of Kenai to set up a meeting. Stein asked that it be scheduled after June, when both councils would be finished with hammering out the new fiscal year's budget, which goes into effect July 1.

In other council news:

n The council listened to a presentation by Gary Fandrei and Mark Matarrese of the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association. The CIAA is looking for council support for its request for federal funding to make up for revenue shortfalls due to consecutive bad commercial fishing years.

n The council awarded a $38,554 contract to Kluge and Associates for programmatic and schematic designs of the city's proposed convention center.

n Carey asked the council if he could write a letter in support of education funding legislation being debated in Juneau. The council approved.

n Carey also asked for council consent for his writing a letter in support of House Bill 175, a $4.8 million, zero interest, 25-year loan to Homer Electric Association by the state of Alaska. Introduced by Lancaster, the bill would fund an underwater power cable across Kachemak Bay to serve the south peninsula.

Cox asked if it would be a conflict of interest for Carey to write the letter, as he is a board member of HEA. Boedeker said it is not, but there is the appearance of such a conflict. Carey suggested Boe-deker write the letter on behalf of the council, and the council agreed.

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