Brenckle: More citizens should be involved in process

Posted: Tuesday, September 30, 2003

If elected to the three-year Kenai City Council seat she seeks, Carol Brenckle vows voters will not only get her involvement in managing the city, they will get as much citizen involvement as she can muster.

"What I consider perhaps to be my most important goal is to be advocating to bring more Kenai residents into the process," she said. "I want to be able to advocate within the council for representative government."

Brenckle suggests forming neighborhood advisory boards, using community patrol groups as the basis for these. She said since she has been attending council meetings and work sessions, she has been disappointed with the lack of citizen involvement.

Brenckle, 61, has been a Kenai resident for 19 years. She raised one son here and is housing a foreign exchange student from Thailand this academic year.

Professionally, she is an attorney, which gives her communication, teamwork, mediation and research skills she thinks would be valuable on the council.

"As an attorney, I am called upon to represent people on either side of an issue," she said.

She is a member of the Kenai Library Commission, the Alaska Juvenile Justice Advisory Commit-tee and the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and is involved in Kenai Youth Court and Bishop's Attic.

If elected, Brenckle has several ideas she would like to set in motion. She would like the council to update the city's code, work with the Kenai chamber to solicit discounts at local businesses for senior citizens, expand the senior housing facility, work toward building a therapeutic school for children and teens with mental health or drug and alcohol abuse problems, find a way to restore the library's book buying fund and organize a Kenaitze-Russian heritage summer festival.

Financially, Brenckle thinks the city is in decent shape and the council overreacted to the negative financial news the city got last fiscal year, like the news of Big Kmart closing and the cuts in state funding, with the cuts it made to the fiscal year 2004 budget.

She believes the city cut programs, like the library's book budget and hours, before cutting perks like snacks and car allowances.

Brenckle said moves like outsourcing the management of the rec center was a "knee-jerk reaction." She said she is not opposed to outsourcing or privatization of city facilities, but thinks the decision to do so should be well researched and thought out because if something goes wrong, it is very difficult to pick up the pieces.

Brenckle said she thinks facilities like the rec center and Kenai Multipurpose Facility can and should be run to break even, or even make a profit.

As for this year's budget, she is not interested in increasing taxes but thinks the council and administration should look at streamlining and cutting costs by making sure departments are run efficiently, eliminating duplicated services and examining the necessity of middle management positions.

She also said city employees should be given a cost of living increase.

"If people are unhappy with what is happening in our city, if they want to move in a new direction, it is time for change and I guess I represent change," she said.

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