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Borough mayor to seek second term

Posted: Friday, July 04, 2008

Borough Mayor John Williams announced Thursday that he will seek a second term as the Kenai Peninsula Borough's chief executive.

"I am pleased to announce, after careful consideration and discussion with my family and my constituents, I will be filing for re-election as Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor when the filing period opens Aug. 1," he said in a prepared statement. "I am proud of the work I and my staff have been able to accomplish in the initial years of this administration and I think we can accomplish even more in the coming three years."

Williams was first elected mayor in 2005. At first competing in a six-candidate field, Williams had to survive a run-off election against former Alaska State Sen. John Torgerson to win the job.

Back then, Williams said he was not in it for the long haul and would not consider a second term unless the borough's financial situation had improved and his health was good.

"I'm not looking, at this point in time, for a long-term career," he said then.

Three years ago, the borough faced an evaporating fund balance, major capital projects behind schedule and in danger of being canceled, a tax policy that placed too much of a burden on property owners, lawsuits and a revenue crunch. Williams said then he wasn't sure if he'd actually want another term.

In the past three years, the borough has seen a measure of recovery, helped by state aid to municipalities and a generally good economy, as well as an increase in sales and property tax revenues. Williams said he worked with the borough assembly to cut costs and rebalance tax policy. The property tax levy was reduced. It now stands at 4.5 mills, the lowest in years.

"Today, the borough's bottom line is healthy," he said in an interview Thursday. "We have worked really hard to put us in that position. We've solved a tremendous amount of problems so many things that we were faced with."

He also said he worked well with the peninsula's legislative contingent, and expects to continue doing so in a new term if voters hand him one.

Getting a clean bill of health from his doctors recently was another factor leading to his decision to run for a second three-year term.

"I do not make this decision lightly," he said. "My conversations with many of my supporters and constituents over the last several weeks have convinced me that I should run for re-election so that I can finish what I started three years ago."

Though there was speculation that he might soon make public his intentions after Soldotna Mayor Dave Carey announced his own candidacy back in December, Williams played his cards close to his vest, indicating that he wanted to complete the borough budget process first, among other things.

Williams said he expects he and Carey will have their differences over management style and how the borough is being run.

Neither candidate has actually filed for office. Candidates must wait until Aug. 1, the beginning of the municipal election filing period. The filing deadline is Aug. 15.

Williams served 18 years as mayor of the city of Kenai before becoming borough mayor.

Hal Spence can be reached at hspence@ptialaska.net.



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