With five candidates vying for one council seat in Soldotna, chances are likely a run-off election will be needed to determine who replaces Jane Stein for council seat D.
Running for the three-year term are Linda Murphy, Peter Micciche, Lydia Bower, Chris Pankratz and Penny Vadla. Stein chose not to seek reelection.
Councilman Shane Horan is running unopposed to fill the remaining one-year term on seat B, to which he was appointed after Lisa Parker resigned earlier this year. Ed Sleater also is running unopposed for his seat E, which he has held since 2004.
Contacted by phone Wednesday, Murphy, Micciche and Bower were in agreement that the top priority for the Soldotna City Council in the coming term is the replacement of retiring City Manager Tom Boedeker, who gave notice he would step down next fall.
"Of course we need to work on a comprehensive plan ... a cemetery, but we really need a strong leader," said Murphy, who has spent a career in public service 15 years as city clerk of Seward and eight years as Kenai Peninsula Borough Clerk.
No newcomer to organizational service, Murphy is the current president-elect of Hospice and is a past president of the Association of Municipal Clerks. During one meeting of that group, she was contacted about serving as a United Nations observer, and did, in fact serve, overseeing the first free election of Kosovo in 2001.
Candidate Vadla believes Soldotna's Comprehensive Plan is the most important issue facing the city.
"It was written in 1995," she said. "It needs to be looked at again to see what we want the city to look like 10, 20, 30 years down the road.
"What do we want our Main Street to look like as being representative of our city?" she said is the question.
Though she has not held any previous elected offices, Vadla, a retired teacher, has served on a number of education-related service organizations.
Micciche said he believes eliminating a disconnect between the city council and the residents of Soldotna as well as planning a road map for the city's future can be rolled up into identifying the right city manager replacement.
Having spent 24 years with ConocoPhillips, the last eight in management, he said he has been working with communities throughout the country in a community relations capacity and believes a number of less outspoken citizens are not being heard by civic leaders.
"They're shy, quiet. They don't speak up," he said, describing a disconnect he believes exists in Soldotna.
Bower, who lists herself as a homemaker in the election pamphlet, said the selection of a new city manager is undoubtedly the most important issue facing the city.
"It sets the tome for the city for the next however many years," she said. "It would be good to get someone from the area ... someone with fresh eyes."
She said she also feels it would be helpful for a new city manager if the city council had a clear vision for the city before the executive search begins.
The 32-year-old mother of six said she considered "waiting until the kids were grown" before getting involved in public service, but "sometimes when you get older, I think you lose sight of what it was like while you were raising your children. I use the parks in different ways than an older person might use it," she said.
In order for one of the candidates to win on Tuesday, he or she must receive 40 percent of the vote, according to City Clerk Teresa Fahning.
If no one attains that many votes, a run-off between the two highest vote getters will be conducted Oct. 30.
Pankratz did not return a phone message in order to be included in this article.
Phil Hermanek can be reached at email@example.com.
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