Kenai City Council: Terry Bookey

Posted: Thursday, September 30, 2010

Water quality, Kenai dipnet fishery top list of concerns

Occupation: Paramedic/Firefighter with Central Emergency Services

Business and professional organizations and other interests: Board of Directors Vice President KDLL 91.9 FM; Kenai Chamber of Commerce member

Interests: Spending time with my family and exploring opportunities for life-long learning.

Previous political experience: None

1. Why are you a good representative of the City of Kenai?

Through my career as a paramedic and firefighter I have finely honed my decision-making skills, learning that decisions must be made carefully only after gathering as many facts as possible. As such I will seek out the opinions of not only those who share my point of view but those who do not. I am an independent thinker whose only agenda is to work towards ensuring that the children of Kenai have the same opportunities to prosper as I did. But most importantly I will listen to our citizens, ensuring an open and collaborative government where decisions are made as partners, not adversaries.

2. What are the two biggest issues facing the city today? If elected, what do you propose to do to work on those issues?

In my door to door conversations residents have identified water quality, the dipnet fishery, and bluff erosion as major areas of concern. With the upcoming construction of a water treatment plant city faucets will soon flow clear.

Through the efforts of many dedicated city employees we have seen vast improvements to the management of the dipnet fishery, but there is still much room for improvement. I would encourage public work sessions be held to solicit ideas from the residents with the goal of developing a long term management plan.

In 2007 voters expressed their commitment to bluff erosion control by approving $2 million worth of bonds. Three years later residents continue to watch both economic and culturally significant land disappear into the Kenai River. We need to continue lobbying state and federal officials for the needed capital and permits required.

3. With the City of Kenai's comprehensive planning process upcoming, what would you recommend the city focus on now and in the future?

Now is the time to remember that short term solutions must fit the long term needs of our city. With that in mind it is important to rein in the conditional use process and the exceptions made to existing zoning. Reading through the last Comprehensive Plan I found, on page 15, the following quote referring to conditional use permits: "This approach may address the immediate need of individual applicants. However, over time, it can compromise the basic purpose of zoning and public confidence in zoning." If our current zoning does not fit the needs of current day Kenai then the council must, with citizen input, modify the zoning map so that it does serve current needs.

Previous goals such as protection of the city's natural areas and protection of the livability of residential neighborhoods require constant vigilance and must remain goals in perpetuity.

4. What does "quality of life" mean to you? What would you support to ensure this ideal for taxpayers?

Quality of life is measured by personal satisfaction and well being. Kenai's Parks and Recreation, Senior Center, and Library are top-notch showing the importance Kenai places on quality of life.

Our library, long a source of community pride, is in the middle of a much needed upgrade that will provide additional opportunities to users.

Modern and well maintained parks and sports fields provide our children with safe outlets for their recreational needs. A beneficial side effect of these sports fields, as seen through the recently completed soccer fields, is an influx of visitors to our city spending dollars in our restaurants and hotels

I will strive to maintain a consistent tax rate while supporting the continued funding of current programs. Additionally, I will encourage the development of new opportunities such as a municipal trail system.

5. If the city was to hold another town hall meeting like the one this past spring on sustainability, what topic should city officials and citizens examine?

As previously mentioned Kenai is nearing review of the Comprehensive Plan. Business and citizen input is vital to ensure that this plan best serves the interests of the city of Kenai. A series of town hall meetings will provide city officials and stakeholders the opportunity to meet and discuss ideas and goals as Kenai continues to thrive as a "city with a future."

Annual town hall meetings will provide a means of ensuring an open and collaborative government. City leaders must strive to provide an environment where residents feel comfortable and welcome. Without an engaged citizenry ideas become stale and stagnant.

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