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Candidate similarity seen as run-off approaches

Posted: Thursday, October 18, 2007

Peter Micciche doesn't think the Soldotna City Council can be run from inside the council chambers, and Linda Murphy doesn't believe a loud minority necessarily represents the majority.

The beliefs of the two candidates who will be pitted against one another Oct. 30, in a run-off election for one city council seat, came out during a candidate forum conducted by the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.

Because none of the five candidates running to fill the seat being vacated by Councilwoman Jane Stein received 40 percent of the vote, city rules say a run-off is necessary between the two top vote getters.

Others who ran unsuccessfully were Lydia Bower, Penny Vadla and Chris Pankratz.

During opening comments at the Tuesday lunch meeting, Micciche told Soldotna civic and business leaders his objective is "to get out into the community and find out how the people really feel ... you can't do it from inside the council chambers."

Each of the candidates was handed a small slip of paper and asked to write down what he or she believes to be the top five issues facing the city, other than the hiring of a new city manager to replace Tom Boedeker when he retires next fall and updating the city's comprehensive plan.

At the top of Murphy's list was building a city cemetery, followed by improving city parks, annexation, revisiting zoning in the business district and considering the purchase of Birch Ridge Golf Course when it goes on the market.

Micciche's list did not differ much from his opponent's.

While a city cemetery was on his list, it did not get top billing.

Micciche said he believed the city should look at revenue diversification to avoid being caught short in the event a large sales tax source, such as the Fred Meyer store or Safeway, closes.

He also had a commercial zone plan on his list, as well as creating community recreation opportunities for adults and the youth of the city. Rounding out Micciche's list was marketing Soldotna's resources to people Outside.

The business leaders also wanted to know how the candidates would vote on an issue if they felt strongly one way, but their constituents opposed their feeling.

Murphy said if it were an issue of public safety, she would "do the right thing" regardless of how the constituents felt.

"If not, my view would take back stage," she said.

Micciche said, "I'm used to making unpopular decisions.

"I can help people understand why I'm leaning one way," he said.

When asked if there was any one issue that made them decide to run, both candidates said, "No."

Murphy said she has a desire to make the community more successful than it already is.

Micciche said disorganization in the downtown area is a concern as is the need for a cemetery.

He said he would like to see a stronger city council.

"City administration should not have to shoulder as much (as it does)," he said.

Murphy said she also would like to see a stronger council, "but from out in the audience, it appears that the council is a rubber stamp."

"It's not," she said. "And I'm not a rubber stamp. I want to see the city prosper."

Absentee voting already is under way in the city and those registered Soldotna residents who want to vote on Oct. 30, may do so at Soldotna City Hall, the only polling place for the run-off election.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at phillip.hermanek@peninsulaclarion.com.



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