• Known as a tireless worker, dedicated to Homer community
By Naomi Klouda
Expect a strong, proactive leader in Beth Wythe, coming to office as the town’s second female mayor and one experienced in most all corners of city government after eight years on the city council.
“I am more reserved. I hope I’m the mayor people can appreciate and respect and talk to if they need or want to,” Wythe said. “I might not be as readily available as (retired judge) Mayor Hornaday, but I am very proactive with my email. I am an excellent communicator. I feel the time to wait for something to come to us has come and gone. If Homer is going to be economically viable, we have to act.”
Wythe keeps her day job at Homer Electric Association as the human resources and administrative services manager, a position she has held for nine years. She has worked for HEA these past 28 years, working her way up from a receptionist position. Her roots in Homer extend back to the 8th grade when her family moved here from Washington State.
Colleagues on the council have called Wythe their most fiscally knowledgeable member. Beau Burgess has called her understanding of local government “brilliant.”
As mayor, Wythe wants to solve the disconnect between the City of Homer and the public that doesn’t rise to respond until after an action is decided.
“I want to figure out a good communication core. When we consider legislation that will impact any sector of the community, I want them to know it’s going on. We advertise in the newspapers and on the radio, but they are not hearing it. That is not a good way to be,” Wythe said. “I want to find a way to reach out to people. I want to let them know: ‘It’s important that you are here.’ How do we work with them to help the economy thrive?”
Any vision of a future Homer elicits many kinds of opinions. “We’re not necessarily addressing all of them. I want to find ways to address that,” Wythe said. Legislation that impacts local businesses or the environment is likely to send troops to testify at long city council nights. Specific ordinances impact the business community, but the response is that the city is trying to sneak something by them.
“There also are some who won’t voice their thoughts publicly because they feel their business might be impacted by that. They somehow feel like their business will be threatened if they take a position on something. And that’s not right either.”
There needs to be a way for the local shop, cafe and other business owners to get timely and useful comments to the council for decision-making, and to have an environment that feels safe to businesses.
“It may not be at the council table. I just want to open a door for them. That will be important to our future,” Wythe said.
Often the council hears loudest when conservation projects are on the table.
“There’s the sense that voice is all we hear. The restrictive side. You need to hear that side, too, but not to be so considerate of them that other voices are stamped out,” Wythe said. “We need to make them work together.”
Wythe attended the meeting Wednesday night when Gov. Parnell addressed community members working on answers for helping young people. She sat in on a work group, and came away with thoughts about a pilot program the City of Homer might want to help support. She described her own growing up in Homer in terms of perceiving the drug and alcohol problems: “We knew there were drugs and alcohol then, and Homer has always had a lot. But now it is even more.”
A tough stand on the parents’ part needs to involve a tight network who let one another know which kids are causing the problem, so that parents aren’t acting in the dark. She would also like to give the Green Dot Program her support.
“I’m hoping Homer gets the invitation to be a pilot project. If we could initiate a way to empower kids to take control of their school, empower them to make their surroundings a safe place to be, that program would be a good place to start,” Wythe said. “Maybe we need to become the village again. We need to keep addressing the problem until it is resolved.” Her own story is one of long commitments and hard work.
Wythe moved to Homer in the summer of 1973 just before 8th grade, from Quincy, Wash., the youngest of Joe and Charlotte Sloan’s five children. Homer was a small town where people knew each other and weren’t afraid to bawl out another person’s kids if they stepped out of line.
Her parents originally planned on moving to Kodiak for her dad’s position as a fisheries plant manager.
“We went to Kodiak on the ferry and ended up staying two weeks longer than usual because the weather was so bad. At that time, you could only fly out two days a week,” Wythe recalled. “We couldn’t get out until a Tuesday and ended up coming back to Homer to live.”
Her father worked for Seward Fisheries, a cannery that preceded Icicle Seafoods, as the plant manager. Later he worked for the Southwest Pilot Association as a dispatcher.
Wythe graduated from Homer High School in 1978. She went to college at Hawaii for a year, then attended Western Washington University in Bellingham.
She married John Wythe, who was born and raised in Homer, in 1981, and after a year off returned to take an accounting, computer programming and business certification from Cannons Business College.
The couple came back to Homer where Beth worked at Homer Rexall Drug as assistant manger for a couple of years. In the summer of 1986, she began with HEA, and steadily moved through the ranks from receptionist, to mail room, to accounting and then to the personnel department. The Wythes have a daughter, Katelyn, born in 1985 and a son, Kevin, born in 1987.
Wythe will keep some office hours at Homer City Hall by appointment, and invites people to call her at home if they have questions or concerns, at 235-3130, or write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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