Recommendations for Tuesday's ballot

Posted: Sunday, October 05, 2003

The biggest enemy facing the issues and the candidates on Tuesday's ballot may be complacency: Voters could be so satisfied with how things are going that they just don't see a need to spend a few minutes going to the polls.

Nevertheless, Tuesday's election is important. The way we vote on issues and the people we put in office have the potential to shape the community for years to come.

Some thoughts on the issues and candidates on the ballot follow. Please note: The important thing is not whether you agree with our picks, but rather that you make the most of your voice with your vote Tuesday.

Proposition No. 1: This measure would establish the Kenai Peninsula Borough Trails Service Area, which would encompass all of the land in the borough outside of the six incorporated cities.

Our recommendation: Vote "No."

While trails certainly are an important component to the borough's outstanding quality of life, supporters of Proposition No. 1 have not made a strong case that an additional service area and taxation is needed to do what is being asked in the proposition.

The borough has a trails commission already, although it likely could use more support than it has received in recent years. The borough already can match state funds for trails with borough funds. Plus, there are questions on duplication of services now provided by the North Peninsula Recreation Service Area. Would north peninsula residents be paying twice for services they already receive?

If approved, the trail services will be funded by a property tax levied within the service area. It is anticipated the tax would not exceed .1 mill, or $10 for $100,000 of assessed property value.

Voting "No" is not casting a vote against trails. It's against a new government agency when there already are means to accomplish the purposes outlined in the proposition.

Proposition No. 2: This measure asks voters to approve the sale of general obligation bonds for the expansion and renovation of Central Peninsula General Hospital.

Our recommendation: Vote "Yes." (The Peninsula Clarion outlined its reasons on why the hospital expansion should be supported in its Sept. 28 edition.)

Proposition No. 3: This measure would establish a Seward-Bear Creek Flood Service Area and authorize flood planning, protection and mitigation powers with the service area.

Our recommendation: Vote "Yes."

This area has experienced at least five major floods since 1986. The proposition is an outgrowth of community concern that a coordinated plan is needed to reduce the risk from future floods.

It is anticipated that the tax levy would not exceed .5 mills, or $50 for $100,000 of assessed property value. Spending money to reduce the damage from floods will be far cheaper than trying to pick up the pieces after the flood.

Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly

While there are three seats open on the assembly, only one is contested. Dan Chay is challenging incumbent John Davis for the chance to represent District 1, Kalifornsky.

Our recommendation: Vote Dan Chay.

Mr. Davis' many years of service to the community are appreciated, but Mr. Chay's experience in mediation and scenario planning is just what the borough and the assembly need right now. Mr. Chay will bring a refreshing perspective to the political process and his election will go a long way in bringing the community together on important issues.

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education

Last year voters approved a change in the way the school board is elected. This year, they will implement the change by replacing the seven-member, at-large board with a nine-member board elected by district. That means every position on the board is up for election. Only three seats District 1, Kalifornsky; District 3, Nikiski; and District 7, Central attracted more than one candidate.

In District 1, retired teacher and board incumbent Sammy Crawford is being challenged by perennial candidate Gene Dyson.

Our recommendation: Vote Sammy Crawford. While we appreciate Mr. Dyson's persistence, the board and district need Ms. Crawford's knowledge and experience.

In District 3, board incumbent Debra Mullins is being challenged by Vicki Pate, who believes "tax-supported government schools are not the way to educate the children of a free society." Ms. Pate advocates separating "school and state."

Ms. Pate's ideas certainly give us something to think about, but someone who does not support publicly funded education should not be an elected representative for a public school system. It's asking for chaos. Ms. Mullins, who was named Alaska School Board Member of the Year in 2002, deserves the community's support.

In District 7, former borough assembly member Debbie Holle and Melanie Osterman, a parent of six, are running for a two-year term.

Our recommendation: Vote Debbie Holle.

Ms. Holle's experience on the assembly, her longtime residence in the borough and her involvement in the community make her the better choice.

Kenai City Council candidates

The race for the three open seats on the council attracted eight candidates. We applaud all of their efforts. Voters have a great cross-section of diverse people and ideas from which to choose. It will be a difficult decision. Because all the candidates bring different strengths to the table, we chose not to make a recommendation in these races. Our only hope is when voters go to the polls they consider more than the single issue of positions on the recreation center.

Running for the single two-year term are Blaine Gilman, James Jenckes and Ozzie Osborne.

Running for the two three-year terms are Carol Brenckle, Barry Eldridge, Amy Jackman, Pat Porter and Rick Ross.

We wish them all well.

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