Wow, it is amazing how fast three years slips by. Each day as Mayor I look forward to taking on new challenges. I am motivated by the fact that with challenges come opportunities. During this past year we have seen the opening of Wal-Mart, ACS choosing Kenai to expand their retail business, extension of water and sewer down Bridge Access Road, the beginning development of Daubenspeck Family Park, the possibility of Enstar Reinjection Gas Plant, the expansion of our public library, national automotive retailer purchasing property, Kenatize Tribe Medical Clinic received Federal Funding and many other projects positioned to bring new jobs and economic development.
During the past four years, the Kenai Municipal Airport has accomplished over $12,000,000 in improvements. These improvements guarantee our airport is in perfect position for expansion in air cargo and a staging area for any development on the west side of the inlet. This fiscal year is the first time in 10 years the airport is operating without a deficit.
Across America many cities are suffering the effects of the economic slowdown; they have had to cut essential services and reduce personnel. Kenai has maintained and even expanded services for our residents. We have again been able to lower the mill rate. Kenai's mill rate is now one of the lowest on the Kenai Peninsula.
Our community is well and flourishing. Retail sales continue to outpace the previous years, but we cannot become complacent. We must continue to move our city forward, continually looking for ways to improve our infrastructure, attracting new business and families to remain a sustainable community.
Our youth want to return to Kenai, but do we have the higher paying jobs that would allow them to buy a home, purchase a nice truck or car, and have enough money to raise a family or enjoy the quality of life which Kenai offers? This should be one of our communities' goals, working to attract business that offers sustainable incomes.
The job of moving Kenai forward into a thriving community cannot be done alone. The city council, administration and citizens must have a positive attitude towards sound development. They must work together to expand our city's future by working to bring in new industry, supporting our current industry, generating new revenues through town festivals, and special events. We cannot be afraid to move outside our comfort zone or a golden opportunity might slip away erasing the possibility of growth and prosperity.
The exercise of campaigning "door to door" has allowed me to hear many of your concerns. Upgrading and repairs of streets, safety issues, noise control, lighting and speed in neighborhoods, snow removal, empty buildings, animal control, Jake breaking of large trucks, dip net access, signage and many others. It is my goal to use my list and find ways to solve many of the issues expressed to me.
We need to foster an environment that encourages civic participation of our youth. We need to give them a taste of responsibility, let them experience ownership and commitment and see that can make a difference. They are the future leaders of Kenai and we should listen to their concerns and see the vision they have for Kenai. The protection of the Kenai Dunes was fostered through the eyes of our youth; we saw the vision, listened and took action. The Dunes are protected, alive and thriving today.
The Kenai River Bluff Erosion project is moving along at a pace which should have the city in firm financial position to move ahead with the preservation within the next few years. This project has been in our vision for nearly 20 years. Completion of the bluff project will encourage economic development as well as assurance to those who live in the area.
During the past six years, I have worked with council and administration to bring a new face to our community. Our residents expressed the need for increased commercial retail business, rejuvenation of neighborhoods beautification of downtown and increased code enforcement. We made positive changes that have resulted in Kenai becoming a destination for families, business, visitors and culture. We have come a long way, our vision must continue.
I have a passion for Kenai, loving it, caring for it and wanting to continue representing Kenai as your Mayor. I love our city, the diversity and talents of our citizens, its rich history and the vision we share for a sustainable community. Kenai deserves a Mayor who is ready to actively promote our town. I will help lead Kenai into the future she deserves, a town that meets the needs of existing and future residents, sensitive to our environment and contributes to a high quality of life. I would be honored to have your vote on October 5.
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