Candidates eye Kenai 1-year seat

Posted: Sunday, September 18, 2005

Editor's note: The following is the first in a series of stories focusing on the upcoming municipal elections Oct. 4. Candidate columns and answers to a Clarion questionnaire can be found on pages A-4 and A-5 in today's paper. Tomorrow's coverage will focus on candidates for two three-year seats on the Kenai council.

Three longtime Kenai residents are vying for a one-year seat on the Kenai City Council this fall.

Tim Navarre, Scott Walden and Bob Molloy are on the ballot to fill the slot.

The unusual short term was created when former council member Pat Porter was elected mayor last year, with two years remaining on her three-year council term.

Jim Butler was appointed to fill the vacancy until the coming Oct. 4 municipal election, leaving one year on Porter's unexpired term.

When recently asked to state their views on controversial issues being discussed by the city council, Molloy and Navarre unhesitatingly said the city should not consider annexing surrounding areas into the city, and Walden said annexing should only be considered when the city is asked to do so by residents of those areas.

Walden, who has lived in the city for 21 years, said annexation should be encouraged in areas where it makes sense logistically and financially.

Molloy's opposition to annexation is based on his belief that newly annexed areas would expect city services, and some areas already within the city limits do not have some city services.

"For example, some roads within our present city limits still need to be paved," Molloy said in a written response.

"Some areas do not have city water and sewer, plus the existing water system needs improvement, with potable drinking water and adequate water pressure for existing users," he said.

Navarre, who has been a Kenai resident for 40 years, said he does not see a need for the city to enlarge its boundaries at this time.

Another issue being bandied about by the the Kenai council is the proposed sale of Kenai city wetlands along the Kenai River to The Conservation Fund.

The three candidates agree that the sale would benefit the city.

Navarre's support comes with modifications to the talked-about plan, and he said he believes the lands, "for the most part" are unsuitable for development.

"There are two options available to the city: an outright sale, or the sale of a conservation easement," Navarre said.

"The latter option would dramatically decrease the revenue for the city," he said.

Molloy, who has lived in Kenai since 1982, said he feels the city could use the more than $500,000 from the sale of the wetlands to help build the new soccer park north of town, or "to create an endowment, with earnings to be used to support recreation."

He said he sees the sale as a "win-win."

Walden said the parcels being proposed in the sale would likely never be able to be used for anything other than conservation.

"Moving forward with a sale that will maintain the parcels as is and at the same time generate substantial revenue to the city makes sense," Walden said.

The former Kenai fire chief said that while in that role, he promoted customer service within the fire department.

"If elected, I believe the most positive impact I can have is to continue that philosophy as council member," Walden said.

Navarre said he believes a council member should be accessible to constituents.

"Working together, we can make Kenai an even better place to live," Navarre said.

Molloy said he would listen to and work for Kenai residents, and would work hard to ensure such things as better water, open government and no deficit spending.

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