After living in, working in and visiting communities all around the state of Alaska, Barry Eldridge decided Kenai was the city he wanted to live in. Now he wants to be on its city council.
"I love this city," the 67-year-old retired Coast Guard captain said. "I haven't found a city any nicer, none cleaner and none prettier."
Eldridge ran once before for council, in 1999.
After 27 years in the Coast Guard, Eldridge took a job in 1985 at Cook Inlet Response Organization, the predecessor to CISPRI, Cook Inlet Spill Prevention and Response Inc.
Eldridge and his wife, Marta, have three children and one grandson.
While in the Coast Guard, Eldridge captained buoy tenders in Alaska and served as captain of the port in cities such as Boston, Mass., and Louisville, Ky. His duties in those cities included vessel inspection and spill response.
"In Boston harbor, we had LNG tankers like we do here," he said. "But they were bringing natural gas in from Algeria."
After retirement, he captained cargo ships to ports throughout Alaska, from Barrow to Southeast and the Aleutians. In recent summers, Eldridge has captained larger excursion boats in Kachemak Bay.
In 1987 Eldridge was appointed to the city's Harbor Commission, a position he still holds.
On the commission, he has pushed for the bluff stabilization sea wall and coastal trail project.
"I want to get people down to the river. A trail down the waterfront would be a blessing to the community," he said.
Beside stemming the erosion to the city's 100-foot bluff, the sea wall, with the coastal trail atop it, will become a destination point for visitors and residents alike.
He said he has no complaints with the council over how it runs the city, which is one reason he chose to run for the seat vacated by Bill Frazer in July, rather than against the two incumbents, Jim Bookey and Joe Moore, seeking re-election.
"They work hard to make Kenai the kind of place it is," he said.
However, he said he'd like to see improvements, such as more private development brought into the city.
"There's been a lot of emphasis on things that haven't produced a lot of tax revenue, like the Challenger Center, fire training center and the court house," he said.
Eldridge is a supporter of the proposed private prison.
"Wildwood has been a good neighbor all the years I've been here," he said. "There's no reason a privately run prison can't be one, too. The jobs there will pay better than at McDonald's or Fred Meyer."
Eldridge faces three others for the two-year council seat he is seeking. They are Randy Daly, Amy Jackman and John "Ozzie" Osborne. He said he thinks they all would probably do a fine job.
"But I bring a little more maturity -- well, certainly more age, and hopefully more maturity goes with that -- than the others if I'm elected."
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