Candidate profile: James N. Butler, III: Kenai City Council

Annexation would cause challenge to services

Posted: Monday, September 19, 2005

Residence: 1711 Kaknu

Mail address: P.O. Box 191, Kenai, AK 99611

Contacts: 283-7359, home; 283-7167, work; jim@bald

Age: 46

Years in Kenai: 29

Family: Wife, Tana, and three children

Occupation: Attorney, commercial fisherman

Education: Associate of arts degree, bachelor's degree in business administration, law degree

Previous elected office: Kenai City Council (2004-present), state Emergency Response Commission (2003-present)

Organizations: Kenai Chamber of Commerce director, past president and director of Cook Inlet Aquaculture

1. Are there changes or improvements that should be made to how the July dipnet fishery is managed? What do you think the city should do with increased revenues from this fishery?

The dip net fishery continues to grow resulting in increased demands on city resources and personnel. My principal concern is that the City of Kenai is able to provide safe, clean and accessible facilities for dipnetters. I would like the city to develop a long-range plan to manage the dipnet fishery including options for access, fish waste management, public safety, revenue and expense scenarios and education about our local salmon resource. The City of Kenai needs to work closely with the AK Department of Fish and Game so dipnet policy makers do not make changes that accidentally harm our community or local resident fishing opportunities.

2. Should the city be considering areas for annexation? If so, which areas? If not, why not?

The City of Kenai currently spans a 29 square mile area. Providing public safety and other city services is already a challenge for our city. If a qualified annexation application is submitted that results in benefits to the City of Kenai, I will give it serious consideration. Absent an inquiry from areas wanting to be annexed that meets statutory requirements and considerable public debate, I think the City of Kenai should focus on providing cost effective services within the current boundaries.

3. Should the city amend its zoning laws to allow for businesses such as gift or coffee shops to operate in educational zones? Why or why not?

The City of Kenai has a Comprehensive Plan which addresses zoning and land use issues. That plan is the byproduct of considerable effort by city staff, the public and professional consultants. In addition, dedicated local business owners and citizens recently completed the Kenai Economic Development Study. I think another important step to ensuring quality development in Kenai will be a comprehensive review of current planning and zoning ordinances. I hope to help with this important and necessary review if elected. If we can make Kenai a better town in which to locate and operate small businesses by updating and amending our zoning ordinances I will be glad to do so.

4. Do you feel the city should go forward with the sale of city-owned wetlands to the Conservation Fund? If so, what benefits will this have for the city? If not, why do you feel the land sale should not proceed?

I like the idea of the City of Kenai leveraging idle city property into cash but have reservations about selling large tracts of city land along the river. Ownership of land along the Kenai River gives the City of Kenai an important place at the table when issues related to the regulation of the Kenai River are discussed; particularly when those decisions might affect our local economy. I would like to consider selling a Conservation Easement (i.e.; sell development rights but keep land ownership) to realize cash, protect important habitat and maintain Kenai's ability to protect area interests. I believe proceeds from such a transaction should be set aside for future use to enhance local parks and recreational opportunities in the City of Kenai.

5. How can the city maximize the impact of the Kenai airport on the city's economy?

The airport remains a central element to the health of Kenai's economy. The City of Kenai is currently engaged in a comprehensive review of current airport operations and opportunities. I think we should complete that review then develop a plan for action based on airport users' current and future needs. The City of Kenai should consider using idle funds in various airport related accounts to invest in airport-area infrastructure that keeps and attracts airport related support services and operators. Current and future operators and service providers at the airport should view the City as a willing partner in airport development.

6. If elected, in what ways do you feel you can make a positive impact on the daily lives of Kenai residents?

I have been on the Kenai City Council for almost one year. In that time I have learned what a special privilege it is to serve the residents of the City of Kenai. I believe that, if elected, city residents will feel confident that they have a city council member that stays informed, contributes ideas based on 20 plus years of residency and who listens to their concerns. I will work hard so city residents benefit daily from minimal taxes, quality public services and facilities that they will feel proud to share with their families, neighbors and visitors.

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