Bookey hopes to see coastal trail become reality

Posted: Wednesday, September 26, 2001

James Bookey, incumbent Kenai City Council candidate is seeking his fourth term in office after nine year on the council and is running his second unopposed race.

In spite of his track record, he said he did not expect to be in this position.

"I'm not a career politician," he said, "and I probably wouldn't have run this time if somebody else were running."

Bookey indicated some disappointment with running unopposed.

"Incumbents can be beat," Bookey said. "I was hoping that we'd have more (candidates). I'd like to see more people get involved. Unless they figure I've done a good job."

Bookey suspects his notoriety in the city could be a reason for this year's one-sided race. He said he has been doing the same things since he entered city government.

"I don't really intend to change my philosophies a lot," he said. "I think everyone pretty much knows my direction after 25 years of being in business in Kenai."

Bookey, owner of J.C. Bookey Excavating, Overland RV Park and Coffee Time Expresso, learned the difference between operating his private businesses and passing city laws and ordinances.

"It's a slow process to get to an end result in the political arena," Bookey said. "The things I could sometimes make happen in the private sector could be ready in two to three weeks. Here, it could take two or three months.

"I don't think any one person changes anything with this city," he continued. "We all put things on the table. I may have helped along the way."

Bookey said he hopes voters have good things to say about him.

"I hope they'd say that I'm open-minded and fair," he said.

Kenai businessman Mark Schragg is complimentary of Bookey's work in the community.

"He's been good to work with," Schragg said. "(Bookey) has a very good balance between business and community."

Fellow council member Joe Moore used one word to describe Bookey's city work: "Awesome."

"I respect Jim," Moore said. "He has a very, very, very extensive knowledge of Kenai."

This knowledge of the city, Moore said, including experience in commercial business and the tourism industry, has served Bookey well.

Bookey is very eager to see one particular project come to fruition.

"My dream for Kenai is a coastal trail," he said of the city's plans to build a sea wall to protect the shorelines along the Kenai River from erosion. "A coastal trail will change the direction of Kenai considerably. Partly because of bluff stabilization."

Bookey said the project also is a way to bring revenue into the city through increased tourism dollars.

"It will give us a trail along the bottom of the river which will give us a program that can compete with Seward and Homer as far as access to the water for boats and fishing," Bookey said. "Hopefully, we can make that come to completion."

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