After one term at the helm, Kenai Mayor Pat Porter is facing a single challenger next week as she seeks reelection to the city's top office.
First-term city council member Mike Boyle, who has served two years on the council, will try to unseat the mayor Tuesday.
When asked earlier this week what they feel is the most important issue facing the city, Porter said she took the question to the residents. Boyle said, for him, the issue grew out of a concern for the city retaining rather than selling city-owned land.
"When I went door-to-door, they kept asking, 'When is Wal-Mart coming? When is Wal-Mart coming?'" said Porter.
"The citizens feel their biggest concern is economic development responsible economic development," she said.
Porter, who served as a council member for five years before being elected mayor, said the concern began after Kmart closed its store in Kenai 4 years ago.
"People got tired of having to get in their car and drive just to get the basic stuff. That's still their biggest concern," she said.
Having lived in Kenai for 38 years, Porter was director of the Kenai Senior Citizens Center for 22 years and has been a substitute teacher at Kenai Central High School since 1998.
Boyle, who was first elected to public office two years ago, said he would like to see the city develop a plan for growth and follow it.
"We need to develop an economic center that would attract small businesses," he said. "We lack a vision for what the city is going to look like 10, 20, 50 years from now."
"Did we actually have it planned out that a big box store would go in back there?" he asked rhetorically, referring to Wal-Mart's announced plan to purchase city land off Marathon Road to build a super store.
"We have a comprehensive plan, but we need to move beyond the plan," Boyle said.
A vocational education teacher and work co-op coordinator for the Kenai, Soldotna and Skyview High School area of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, Boyle has lived in Kenai 18 years.
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