Soldotna council hopefuls debate

Posted: Thursday, September 27, 2001

The two candidates running in the only contested race in Tuesday's Soldotna City Council election faced off before the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce luncheon this week.

Incumbent Jane Stein and challenger Fred Sturman made extensive opening remarks, though only one question came from the audience, directed at Sturman. The moderator was Mike Frost, chamber president.

Below are their comments, question and answer, and closing remarks, given in the order they were made.

Stein said she and her husband, David, moved to Soldotna after retiring in the Lower 48, something she said some thought was unusual.

"Why not? We happen to live in a beautiful city," Stein said. "I just feel that I'm most fortunate to be in a community where I have the privilege of really working."

She said her volunteer work began with the United Way, followed by Bridges, Healthy Communities-Healthy People and most recently with Central Area Rural Transit System.

She said she enjoys being retired and the time it has given her to become involved in politics and her many volunteer activities.

She said the involvement of government students from Soldotna and Skyview high schools in the city, and the mini-grants the city provides to them, is what she is most pleased with about being on the council.

"The students are doing marvelous things to help our community, and I am most grateful to them for doing that," she said.

She said she is also working with high school students on getting a skateboard park in the city, so as to get them out of the parking lots of local businesses.

She said the proposed events center is a project that grew out of public comments at forums.

"We studied it and came back with an offer and are now presenting it to the people," she said.

Sturman said he's lived in Soldotna since 1965. His first words were those of encouragement to the public to turn out 100 percent at the polls on Tuesday, rather than the "30 percent that do and make the decisions for the rest of the 70 percent."

"The biggest reason I'm involved in this whole deal is I love this community. I watched it grow, and I think we've done a real nice deal," he said. "But I think it's time the city pay the people who have put the money up over the past 35 years to build this city up to where it is today."

Sturman's message was cutting the city's budget by $1 million a year. He said by reducing the (sales) tax by one-half (percent) and cutting half of the city's capital projects budget, that could be accomplished.

"That still leaves $800,000 ... in this capital projects (budget). That will show the people in the community all around here that we appreciate you coming to town and shop and buy your merchandise and so forth here in town," he said.

He also proposed eliminating property tax.

He said with the kind of sales and property tax revenue increases the city has seen in recent years, the cuts would be palatable.

"I think you business people in town ought to stop and look, go look at the budget, look at these items I'm telling you about and see if that's what you want to do," he said.

"If I'm elected, I can't do a thing in the world at the city council because I'm sure most of these items I'm suggesting will not be done.

"But next year, we need three more of you gentlemen that feel the same way as I do to ... run to be elected."

Question: The only question came from James Fisher. He asked Sturman how he would reconcile providing an environment attractive enough to lure businesses, paid for by tax revenue, with his desire to cut taxes.

Sturman said he thinks the city has created a pleasant environment already.

"I feel like we have everything in this community we need and now it's time to give some of it back to the people," Sturman said. "If we cut our taxes, more people will come to town and the growth will come higher with the sales tax."

Closing remarks:

Sturman asked the audience to swear to bring 12 people to the polls on Tuesday.

"I think I've made it pretty plain where I'd like to be. I'd like to cut government, cut spending. It's always been my policy," he said. "I'll leave it at that. If you like those policies, vote for me, and if you don't, don't."

Stein said she is very pleased to have been part of the city council and trying to enhance the entire community.

"I intend to listen very carefully to you and continue that kind of thing, if given that opportunity," she said.

"I am very proud to be an American, and I hope you are too and will take advantage of that and vote, whatever you do."

The municipal election is on Tuesday, with polls open for both Soldotna precincts at Soldotna City Hall from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

In addition to the Stein-Sturman race, there are two candidates running unopposed for the city council. They are Sharon Moock and Audrey Porter. Also on the ballot will be the city's $3.5 million events center bond proposition, as well three boroughwide propositions.

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