Lancaster promises attentive borough administration

Posted: Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Rep. Ken Lancaster, currently serving in the Alaska House, chose not to seek re-election to the Juneau job in favor of a public service position closer to home.

He wants to be mayor of the Kenai Peninsula Borough and is challenging the incumbent, Mayor Dale Bagley.

If he wins, Lancaster said he won't be making any wholesale changes in the administration, at least not right away.

"I've followed it fairly closely, but not day to day," he said. "I'd meet with department heads and let us get a feel for each other. I'm not going to come in with pink slips."

Lancaster said, however, that borough departments might work more closely together. For instance, a controversial ordinance establishing new road standards for new subdivisions might have had an easy road had the planning and road departments been able to work together.

"They might have developed a better ordinance," he said.

Likewise, better sharing between fire and emergency service areas might produce better coverage for outlying areas such as Funny River, Ninilchik and Silver Tip, he said.

Lancaster said he would consider tax breaks, land and other incentives to bring new business to the peninsula.

"I don't mean we should give away the farm," he said.

There are niche markets the borough should be looking at, he said.

Lancaster opposed a statewide sales tax in the Legislature, even presenting the borough's concerns to his colleagues.

"I don't think we need to take that ability away from the cities," he said, adding that if the anti-food tax initiative is passed, borough residents may get a feel for what a substantial loss of revenue feels like. A similar loss of revenue might attend implementation of a statewide sales tax, too, he said.

Lancaster said the borough's budget seems adequate, but one's view of it may be different in different parts of the borough and depend heavily on which services a resident actually gets.

On education, Lancaster said he is awaiting the results of the cost-differential study being conducted by the state. He said the way the state funds education needs to be revisited.

Lancaster said he supports the $12 million waste management bond measure. The construction planned at the landfill is necessary because of changes in environmental law.

"We must deal with it," he said.

He also supports Anchor Point-area residents in their effort to establish a service area for port and harbor services.

Lancaster said he believes he is the best person for the mayor's job because he takes a hands-on approach to issues.

"I'll be there with the public and address their needs on a personal basis," he said. "We lack that today. I don't think the mayor is out there enough. We need to showcase the peninsula to the state and country. We can do a better job of selling ourselves."

The borough administration could be more responsive to the public, he said. He promised constituents that a call will get a phone call back.

"If we are going to keep the taxpayers happy, we need to call them back, drive out there, whatever the occasion needs. I'll be a little more hands-on and involved."

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