Scott Walden: Kenai City Council

Public service a political must

Posted: Sunday, September 18, 2005

Though I've been in public service for over 25 years I've never held a political office. As fire chief, politics certainly became a part of the job.

I've always believed the City has an obligation to its citizens to provide the best service possible in the most cost efficient way.

Finding alternative funding sources, thinking "outside the box" for better ways to provide services that benefit the community, and providing good information and advice to help City leaders in their decisions were integral components of my management style as a department head.

As an employee of the City working with a group of dedicated people in City Hall, Public Works and Public Safety, a lot was accomplished for the community, including:

Lower fire insurance ratings in much of the City with improvements to the water system and emergency communications using federal and State grants;

Establishment of the Alaska Regional Fire Training Center using federal funds. The facility now trains over 1,000 people each year;

Cost offsets for upgrades and replacement of emergency vehicles and equipment using State and foundation funding;

Establishment and perpetuation of public education, code enforcement, fire investigation and prevention programs;

Piloting the Fire Wise Program and having Project Impact offices locate here, clearing over 500 acres of City land and like quantity of private land of trees affected by the spruce bark beetle and making the property more desirable for home building;

Design, construction and operation of the Airport Operations Facility using State and federal funding;

Assisting in the establishment of a local paramedic degree program and helping the University of Alaska chart the course of their public safety degree programs for the next five years, keeping training dollars in-State;

Propagation of state laws requiring testing of criminals for contagious diseases when they commit certain assaults, requiring E911 surcharges be distributed locally and the legislative establishment of the Alaska Fire Standards Council to set standards and certify fire department personnel in the State;

Support of the Aspirations mentorship program for high school students;

Streamlining the building plan review and permit process to make it quicker and easier to establish a business in Kenai while meeting applicable codes.

The majority of these projects were done at little or no cost to the City through grants, changes to Alaska laws and by taking advantage of federal programs. Recent successes include State funding to establish a fire department water supply in VIP Subdivision and zero match federal grant approvals for other projects.

It is important to have someone on City Council, if only for the one-year seat, willing to look for and suggest alternative means to address large projects that are part of the City's immediate future such as replacement of the City Shop and grounds remediation, Library expansion, paving roads, improving the water system and planning for expansion of the sewer treatment plant, as well as recurrent needs of the City.

I would be honored to fill that seat.

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