Mayor decision not an easy choice to make

Editorial

Posted: Friday, October 21, 2005

It’s not an easy choice, but it’s a necessary one.

Voters will get the opportunity to have a hand in deciding who will lead the Kenai Peninsula Borough into its future in Tuesday’s runoff election for borough mayor — a decision we hope residents don’t take lightly.

Prior to the first municipal election on Oct. 4, we encouraged voters to get out and make their voices heard. Our tune hasn’t changed. In fact, we strongly urge you to make the effort, especially since runoff elections have a history of drawing even less folks to the polls than regular elections.

Funny how when the decision of who should have a strong hand in determining our direction is to be made, we tend to sit back and let a few decide for the many.

It’s an pivotal election, too, as a new person will take the helm for the next three years.

Peninsula residents have a difficult choice with two outstanding candidates.

John Torgerson and John Williams have a long history of dedication and commitment in their time spent on the Kenai. They are well-respected men who have garnered much experience in the political arena and made good choices in those positions for the people here.

In light of the borough’s financial future, both candidates have stressed the need to tighten the belt and make changes — popular or not. It won’t be easy, by any means.

The candidates share similar views. They both have run a business. They have a strong desire to protect education funding. They see the need for a growing, diversified economy.

Torgerson says he will convene a transition team to look at the big picture and come up with areas to save money. He has said his main objectives are to continue to push to increase existing industry, while also looking for money to support tourism.

Williams plans to take a team-oriented approach to solving the borough’s financial problems. He has pointed to the area’s growing senior citizen population as a potential market for industry to grow around.

There will be some cutting action involved no matter who is elected. Both candidates have said their first order of business would be to cut the borough’s Community and Economic Development Division. And tightening spending is a must.

But who will make the best overall decisions?

The borough’s future is coming to a crossroads and there’s a lot at stake. What residents need to decide is who is best qualified to make those decisions.

Williams has a knack for rallying the troops to get things accomplished. There’s no doubt much of the credit for Kenai’s financial stability, as well as the influx of major capital projects including the Kenai Courthouse, the Kenai Senior Citizens Center and senior housing, the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska, the fire training center and the public health clinic goes to Williams and his tireless efforts in his 18 years of office as Kenai’s mayor.

Torgerson has experience as an assembly member and as a state senator. He sees that many of our problems and issues are not in our control, but in the control of the state and federal governments, entities where his experience will make a difference. He has co-chaired the Senate Finance Committee, and his background in oil and gas issues on the state and local level play a favorable role for the peninsula. As he has said, he will have a seat at the table to lobby for our borough and our issues.

As the state addresses its financial issues, Torgerson’s experience equips him to be a player who will fight for borough residents and help solve the problems that could affect Alaskans’ quality of life.

Voters have two good choices before them at the voting booth Tuesday. We believe John Torgerson’s experience makes him the better choice.

Whether you agree with us or not, the most important choice you make is to go to the polls. It’s up to you to help determine which direction the Kenai Peninsula is heading.



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