Bannock: Not only is it a privilege to serve, it's also fun

Posted: Tuesday, September 24, 2002

After nine years serving on the Kenai City Council, Duane Bannock considered giving it up this year by not running for re-election.

But Bannock's love for Kenai and for participating in the political process overcame his desire to take a break from it.

"I really love Kenai. It's the only place I've ever really lived in my entire life," he said. "And being involved in city government is one of the funnest things I get to do. I consider it a privilege to get to do something that you enjoy so very much."

Bannock, 38, has been interested in politics since he was 15, when he attended his first council meeting to fulfill a requirement for the community badge for the Boy Scouts. He has lived in Kenai nearly his entire life. He and his wife, Carol, have two sons.

As an adult, Bannock has spent more than a decade involved in city government. He spent five years on the Planning and Zoning Commis-sion and the last nine years on the council. In his professional life, as vice president of Kenai Chrysler Center, Bannock said he practices the same tenets of public service in his day-to-day job.

"I deal with customers every day that have the same issues that I deal with twice a month (on the council)," he said.

"... I try to put myself in the forefront of community politics professionally and personally, and I think that I am uniquely qualified (for the council) because of the fact that I am out there."

Both in his professional role and in his role on the council, Bannock's job is to solve problems, he said. On the council, one problem he has been particularly interested in solving is the city's budgetary dilemma. During this year's budget process, the council wrestled with a budget deficit largely due to reduced revenue from lowered interest rates.

Bannock introduced a plan that directed the administration to cut $165,000, from the budget in ways the residents of Kenai wouldn't feel it. The measure was voted in by the council.

This year, the council is handling the budget process differently, mainly by beginning budgetary and policy discussion sooner. Bannock said he doesn't want to miss an opportunity to be part of that process and to help improve it.

Other council developments in the past year Bannock said he was pleased with was include the Kenai Chamber of Commerce as an agenda item in council meetings and the administrative departments submitting written reports to the council each month.

Developments Bannock has not been so pleased with include his unsuccessful mayoral bid in last year's election and issues like the grocery tax initiative that attempt to interfere with the council's right to set its own policy, he said.

"I am very protective of our little city," Bannock said.

"I like the fact that we control our own destiny. If we make a bad mistake, no one else comes to the rescue when the city of Kenai is in trouble, so no one else has the right to interfere with what is our obligation."

Bannock said he realizes his outspoken stance on this issue may be politically unpopular in the eyes of the public, but his motivation is doing what's best for the city.

"It would be very easy to say I support lower taxes," he said. "... Those are very comfortable and great, warm, fuzzy feeling things to say. By not subscribing to that, it can be akin to political suicide. (But) if I perish, I perish.

"My record has never advocated raising taxes. I am smart enough to believe it would be irresponsible to attempt to go back and start giving back revenue, because I am not sure where we're going to make that revenue up or what more services are going to be cut from the residents of the city of Kenai."

If re-elected, Bannock said he would work toward enhancing the airport land systems and increasing overall activity at the airport, which includes more than just getting another carrier, he said.

Along with his council commitments, Bannock enjoys being involved in the community, especially volunteering his services as a hot dog and hamburger cook at community functions.

"I like to be involved in the public and in the betterment of our community where I can," he said. "I don't do it to pad my resume, I do it because it's fun."

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